Kodak CMO Hayzlett Goes Out With a Tweet

Social-Media Swashbuckler Leaves Camera Company to Focus on His Own Brand

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- It's fitting that Jeffrey Hayzlett's good-bye would come as a tweet. The 49-year-old chief marketing officer of Kodak and self-styled swashbuckler posted this morning to Twitter and Facebook, just as the official company news release about his departure from Kodak went out, in part: "Stay tuned. More to come after May 28."

Jeffrey Hayzlett
Jeffrey Hayzlett
Mr. Hayzlett, known as much for his social-media omnipresence and outsized gregarious personality, published his first book, "The Mirror Test: Is Your Business Really Breathing?" this month, and said he is leaving to pursue personal projects, including a second book already in the works, as well as several to-be-announced TV projects. His departure was already in the works, he said, planned for later this year; however, the faster-than-expected success of the book moved up that timing.

"This is the longest I've ever stayed in one job," he said, adding that he is providing input on the new CMO search and guidance on Kodak marketing initiatives through the fall.

Mr. Hayzlett's last day will be May 28, but he will provide consulting services to the company until the end of August, a Kodak spokesman said. The company in a news release said the CMO role will be repositioned and the duties changed, and while the spokesman declined to offer any further detail, he did confirm that the CMO job title will continue. Mr. Hayzlett said he "would suspect" the marketer will have chosen a new CMO before his consulting tenure is done in August.

Mr. Hayzlett said he is proud of the work he's done at Kodak, specifically citing the renewed energy inside the company that he, as "the chief cheerleader," helped instill; the brand's much higher visibility; and the innovations in social media (adding a chief blogger and chief listener) as well as its extensive branded-entertainment deals. "Everyone knows Kodak has its mojo back," he said.

He was recruited to Kodak in 2006 by CEO Antonio Perez, coming to the company after leading his own PR and business-development firm. The native South Dakotan was a nontraditional choice, but has proven effective at overseeing a marketing reorganization that put digital squarely in the company's mindset. Moreover, Kodak has been successful at managing the difficult transition from old-world print and camera brand to digital-image purveyor. Its latest financials from the first quarter of this year showed sales of almost $2 billion, up more than 30% from the comparable period a year earlier. Its consumer-digital group doubled previous year's sales to $891 million. A recent Brand Keys annual study of the best customer loyalty engagement brands ranked Kodak as No. 1, tied with Canon (and besting Nikon, Sony and Panasonic), in digital cameras.

Mr. Hayzlett has been equally -- some might say even more -- adept at building his own profile. He is an active Twitterer (21,000-plus followers) and Facebook user (more than 3,800 fans). He's made guest appearances on "Celebrity Apprentice," appeared on the red carpet at the People's Choice Awards, and on his current book tour has been doing book signings, as well as receptions and question-and-answer sessions. He's been called a social-media guru, a celebrity CMO, and even "the Chuck Norris of marketing."

"Kodak has leveraged social media to our advantage. And I'd be lying if I said that it didn't provide a lot of benefit to me, personally," Mr. Hayzlett said. "You have to promote yourself as much as you promote the brand because they're intertwined."

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