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An image materializes from nowhere, creating an instant impression where a blank slate had been. Polaroid film, you wonder? No. Polaroid Corp.'s new ad campaign.

The advertising claimed the No. 7 spot on last quarter's list of outstanding TV campaigns after a mere three months on the air. The ranking marked Polaroid's first appearance in the top 10 since 1983, which ended the brand's glory years of advertising with James Garner and Mariette Hartley with the help of Doyle Dane Bernbach. Their antics together had blossomed into a top 10 perennial for the better part of a decade.

Campaigns for regular film and cameras then mounted an effective counterattack united around such themes as cheap, quick and easy developing, etc. Polaroid's once magical process faded even further from consumer consciousness with the introduction of computer scanners, video cameras and other image-oriented technologies.

By the time San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein & Partners won the account last September, Polaroid's challenge was twofold: 1) get baby boomers to get their cameras out of the closet; and 2) excite a new generation about Polaroid photography.

Agency principal Rich Silverstein explains: "The instant technique has been a part of the American heritage for over three decades, but it lost its benefits to video cameras."

The new campaign, themed "See what develops," is designed to reinvent Polaroid in a world even more given to instant gratification. The chain reaction triggered by instant photography is the theme of the campaign. The consumer benefits are communicated at both emotional and practical levels in different executions in terms of just how useful an instant picture can be.

"It is not to compete with the Kodaks and the Panasonics," Silverstein says. "It is to communicate the satisfaction of instant pictures."

Of course, it doesn't hurt to make this point with photos and pets-America's love-which explains why the "Dog & Cat" spot reduces all others in the campaign to distant also-rans. Should kids be next?M

Dave Vadehra is president of Video Storyboard Tests.

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