As I said earlier, I think Kodak's film marketing people would do well to observe The Impossible Project marketing model. Not to target the same demographic. But instead maybe to adapt some of the techniques to targeting Kodak's different demographic.*
Originally Posted by Tim Gray
For me personally, I think it's interesting that I haven't seen much of anything related to Portra or Ektar online. But I have read a great deal about TIP.
One of their best techniques is to establish a "partnership" with individual customers, making them feel as if both the customer and TIP have embarked on some great adventure together by experimenting with TIP instant films. And that it's just you and TIP together against the world. Everyone else out there really has no clue how cool the two of us really are.
Corny? You bet. But it seems to sell a lot of product for TIP. Would it work for Kodak? Probably not. Could it be adapted in some way for Kodak to use? Probably so. As could many of the other techniques.
Heck, TIP even snookered me into subscribing to their online newsletter (i.e., sales pitch tool). And it's just harmlessly goofy enough that I keep reading it.
* Yet again, only IF they really want to continue selling film in the long-term.
"The richness of the experience that occurs when one is exposed tangibly to a subject, material, or process is unmatchable in the abstract... Thus, when 'touch it,' 'taste it,' smell it' become the watchwords, the results are most often extraordinary. Equally extraordinary are the lengths to which people will go to avoid [that] experience."
— Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr., In Search of Excellence, 1982
Ken, I don't know what forums you frequent, but if it's only APUG, then I'm not surprised you haven't seen good things about Portra. This forum is pretty negative towards Kodak in general, either of the sort of active criticism "I don't like Kodak, they dissed me in the past" or of the disinterested "Kodak doesn't care about film".
Other forums have been pretty positive towards Ektar over the past couple years. I've read a number of times people stating Ektar is the best thing Kodak has come out with in years and/or it's the only Kodak film they like.
With respect to Portra 400, it's gotten a lot of talk on film groups on flickr, Rangefinder Forum, photo.net, and l-camera-forum. Most of those sites cite the tests done by Jonathan Canlas, Twin Lens Life, and Figital Revolution, all of whom had access to the film pre-release and and posted their reviews the day Kodak announced the film. The public perception in some of those groups is that this film is almost magic and enables pushing to speeds never before attained, with thread titles like, 'Portra 400 - Changed the game for colour neg film'. Though it's a great film, I actually view some of this as a bit over the top.
On top of this, regular schmoes like athiril and me have finally gotten our hands on the film and done a couple tests which only add to word of mouth marketing. Tests run by regular users that I've seen include exposure latitude tests, comparisons to 400NC/VC, pushing tests, and even a 3 way casual comparison between a Canon 5DII, Portra 400 rated at 1600, TMY rated and 1600, and TMZ rated at 3200. Some of those discussions went on for hundreds of posts.
I think Kodak IS engaging in this kind of marketing to a certain small extant. They are most definitely a bit more standoffish that TIP or Ilford, but I'm of the opinion they actually are engaged in some viral marketing. It's only here on APUG where it doesn't seem to penetrate because every time the work 'Kodak' is mentioned, people like to go all negative. And even if a meaningful discussion does occur, it usually degenerates into a pissing match because some mentions the word 'scan' or decides to argue about magenta.
I think Magenta was my favorite character in "Rocky Horror Picture Show".
I think Kodak is blowing a really great chance to stimulate the film market. There are So Many new photographers, and they almost all say when they see my film camera "is that a Film Camera?! I really want to shoot film". I think an ideal marketing message would be along the lines of "Now Try The Good Stuff", and with TMX, Portra and Tri-X it is.
With the removal of the shop by shop infrastructure for 'ordinary' users of film it cannot be brought back to mass use. The costs to recreate it would be too high. The infamous chicken-or-egg situation comes in to play too of course.
Is it the case in the US as well that the only legal purpose of a limited company is to maximise return for share-holders ? Kodak, or any company, must produce toilet-seats if that is chosen by the board as the way ahead because it is expected to give the highest return on capital. It doesn't mean it's the right or competent decision over time, but that doesn't matter. Unfortunately for colour film users.
Dan Carp and George Fischer, the predecessors to Antonio Perez stated often and loud that their goal was to make Kodak the worlds premium imaging company. (their words)
When Perez was hired, he was asked to change that mantra to "digital imaging company". He did not choose that, he was told that and that is his mandate. The BOD saw some sort of handwriting on the wall for analog and directed him to go the way he is. They appear to be approving his actions.
At HP, Perez was VP of the printing division and oversaw the HP digital direction in that market. Is it any wonder that he has gone the way he has? No. In fact, he has stated, in my hearing, that that was a major factor in his hiring by the BOD as they believed that was the best way to save Kodak.
His strategy after that was logical. And it appears that the BOD was happy until now. See my OP. People are waking up.
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I agree totally with your point that "marketing" does not mean only traditional "advertising." Kodak obviously is marketing its films, and has been in the past. For example, the giveaway of the prior version of Portra, the annual rebates for purchasers of professional film, and the seeding of the new Portra to reviewers.
Originally Posted by Tim Gray
I just want to say that this isn't really "viral marketing" in a negative way, like so-called stealth marketing. It's just regular marketing and promotion, adapted to a new age.
Film companies have always provided free samples of their products to magazines for use and review. Also in the past to newspaper photographers, heavy commercial users and other influential photographers who might like the film and later pay to use large quantities. And to photo store employees who would recommend it to their customers.
Now, with commercial photographers primarily digital, and magazines on their way out, the internet is a better and cheaper way to reach film customers. Just as you might take out a google ad, rather than an ad in a paper magazine, you would now provide your product for use and review to bloggers. That's the exact same practice, but using the media of the internet rather than print.
It is the same for many consumer products. Review copies of books go to bloggers now. Car companies, kitchenware companies, audio equipment companies, you name it -- they all provide their products for use and review by internet bloggers.
I personally have posted several times how much I like the new Portra 400. I bought it at retail and paid to develop it, and I posted on APUG because I sure hope people learn about this good film and buy it. And I do think it's better than the prior Portras, though I agree with you that it's not better to a life-changing degree.
I have no connection to Kodak, other than being a satisfied customer. I certainly would never buy the stock. Similarly, users post positive things every day about Kodak products. What developer should I use, someone asks, and I might say, try X-Tol. (Same for wonderful Fuji and Ilford products.)
I was alerted to the new Portra by Kodak's promotion, and I probably read a review or two by those bloggers you cite. That's the point of marketing and promotion. I won't discount that some of those bloggers, who unlike me might have gotten free film, might, like me, sincerely love film and love Kodak and want to trumpet positive things about a great new Kodak film. They might have tried it because of marketing, but they are positive about it because it's really good.
Laura - agree with you 100%.
This bears repeating:
Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick
Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick
Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!
Nothing beats a great piece of glass!
I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.
I think it's apparently obvious that Kodak is in bad, bad shape. If and when they go away, I'll switch. Until then, I'll continue using the Kodak products that I like.
I'm buying as much Tri-X in 35mm as I can shove in the freezer, just in case...