POLAROID'S WOES IN FOCUS;FLIGHT OF BBDO UNVEILS WEAK MARKETING FRAMEWORK

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Polaroid Corp. is taking its advertising one step at a time after the abrupt exit of agency of record BBDO Worldwide.

The New York shop bolted to pitch Eastman Kodak Co.'s $50 million global branding account (AA, July 31). For now, Polaroid is looking to just complete a $9 million campaign for the OneStep Talking camera-introduced in March through Burrell Communications, Chicago-as its sole advertising for the year, including the key holiday period.

"We have high hopes to increase media billings and regenerate the brand in '96," said Joanna Hughes Brach, Polaroid director of marketing communications and photographic imaging.

Early next year, four agencies will pitch the estimated $30 million account-roster shops Leonard/Monahan, Providence, R.I., and Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London, as well as two unnamed agencies. New creative is expected to hit next March.

Ms. Brach said the unnamed shops, to be identified within two weeks, won't be "large, global-type agencies" and haven't worked for Polaroid.

Media and creative could be split between agencies, she added. Leonard/Monahan has handled business-to-business advertising for more than six years, and Bartle was appointed European agency of record last November. Burrell wasn't invited to participate in the review.

Analysts say Polaroid has lost its way. Its latest distraction is the need to find a replacement for CEO I. MacAllister Booth, who will retire at the end of 1996. But Polaroid has also suffered from a string of lackluster product introductions and flat film sales overall.

In addition, "they've been way underspending on their core business-$30 million isn't even enough," said Brenda Lee Landry, an analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co., New York. "It's because they've been losing so much on digital [research and development] in the past several years in a big way."

Polaroid's results have been slumping in recent years with net income down 22%, on 16% higher revenues, since 1990.

The company, which announced a 5% cut in its work force last February, had net income of $117.2 million last year, vs. a loss of $51.3 million in '93; worldwide sales were up 3% to $2.31 billion. For first-quarter '95, however, Polaroid reported a net loss of $75.8 million, vs. earnings of $1.4 million for the same period in '94. Worldwide sales were down 12% to $409.6 million.

Burrell, which specializes in reaching African-Americans, has worked with Polaroid for two years and created targeted Captiva ads that featured comedian Sinbad. The Sinbad spots were well-received and Burrell got the general market OneStep Talking account, also using Sinbad, as additional business.

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