Polaroid corp. joins the growing ranks of manufacturers peddling their wares online by launching a nationwide ad campaign today to coincide with the company's first foray into e-commerce, a direct sales Web site Polaroid developed itself.
The multimedia campaign is small: Polaroid has earmarked less than $1 million for advertising. But the company is deliberately dipping only its toe into e-commerce to test the virtual waters before plunging into what it expects will be a lucrative venture.
"We are committed to the Internet; we think this is the channel of the future," said Arturo Duran, program and business manager for digital photo printers at Polaroid.
Polaroid built the e-commerce site, Polaroid Direct, to sell a range of products, including digital cameras, software and scanners. Initially, it will sell only its new digital photo printer, PhotoMax. The company expects to offer more products online by September.
The piecemeal approach to selling online is common, said Lauren Freedman, president of E-tailing Group, Chicago.
"Proceeding slowly is the result of a mix of [manufacturers'] not having the core expertise on the back end, plus a little concern about channel conflict," Ms. Freedman said.
But Polaroid is different in that it will fulfill orders itself, rather than outsourcing that function.
At the same time, the company is partnering with online retailers, who initially will sell only its digital printer. Retail partners include CompUSA, CDW Computer Centers, Dell Computer Corp., NECX and PC Connection. Also, Wolf Camera will sell PhotoMax in its retail stores.
"People will go to Polaroid Direct only when they want Polaroid [products]," Mr. Duran said. "But people who like to buy by wandering around are going to want to see Polaroid products also available at their favorite online retailer."
Polaroid sees channel conflict as a moot point; many retailers "are already talking to us about how we can help them go online," Mr. Duran said.
The campaign from Eisnor Interactive, Boston, includes banner ads on retail partner sites and selected sites in the DoubleClick Network, including AltaVista, the Dilbert Zone, Egghead and Macromedia. The campaign also will include billboards, in-store displays, radio spots and print ads in the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, and San Jose Mercury News.
BRAND NOSTALGIA MERGED WITH EASE OF USE
The advertising, starting today and running through July 4, will promote an online sweepstakes to win a Volkswagen Beetle. "Did you know you could print Polaroids from your PC?" is the tagline.
"We decided to keep the tagline simple," said Di-Ann Eisnor, president-CEO, Eisnor Interactive, which is doing its first work for Polaroid on this project. "Everybody loves a Polaroid," saying the brand elicits a sense of nostalgia in consumers. "Merging that nostalgia with the fact that this [printer] works with your PC is motivation enough for someone to want to buy it. We wanted the advertising to reflect that."
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, handles Polaroid's consumer advertising, and Holland Mark Martin & Edmund, Boston, handles business-to-business. But Eisnor created all the ads for this project.
"We chose Eisnor because they came to us with something out of the box, something different, and because they had the best idea as to how to explain the Polaroid product," Mr. Duran said.
Online and offline advertising will drive consumers to a separate Web page Eisnor developed where they can enter the sweepstakes and click on a button to learn more about and buy the Polaroid digital photo printer. Buttons and banners running elsewhere will send consumers either to Polaroid Direct or one of the five online merchant partners, depending on the day of the week. On weekends, click-throughs will send consumers to Polaroid Direct.
Polaroid will reap all revenue when it sells direct. Partners will get a percentage of the revenue for printers sold through their sites.
Copyright May 1999, Crain Communications Inc.