Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kodak CMO: We're Ready to "Play"

It's not your grandfather's Kodak anymore and Kodak aims to keep it that way, declared its chief marketing officer Tuesday.

"I want to make us look cool," said CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett in a frank and often funny keynote address at the Streaming Media East conference in New York Tuesday. 

Hayzlett readily admitted that Kodak had a penchant for saddling interesting products with dull names. For example, while Kodak's Zi8 digital video camera had been well received in the market, he agreed with Boston Globe technology columnist Hiawatha Bray, who lauded the camera but said the name was "dreadful."

Prompted by the column, Kodak ran a contest to name its next video product, which turned out to be the PlaySport, a waterproof digital video camera unveiled at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January. He said it took a while to decide on the name, but he told his colleagues at Kodak, "We're not about to call this cool camera the 'ZX3.' "

He said that moving forward, all of Kodak's new digital video cameras will carry the "Play" moniker as the first part of its name.

He said Kodak has gone through great pains to freshen the way it presents itself on the Web and at trade shows. Pointing to an image of Kodak's old Web site on a large screen, Hayzlett said it "looks like a yard sale," especially when compared to the new site, which makes good use of screen-filling images and videos from current events. 

Instead of carting truckloads of products from trade show to trade show, Kodak now uses interactive displays to get its point across and stages televised panel discussions to engage the public at the show and on the Web. "We cut 75 per cent out of our trade show budget by doing it this way," said Hayzlett.

He also noted that Kodak now responds to consumer demand much faster than it once did.

"The old Kodak would have taken five years to bring the Zi8 to market," he said. "We did it in five months."

So where is the future for Kodak? Apparently in the business-to-business market. Hayzlett said Kodak now does 60 to 70 per cent of its sales with businesses. 

He noted that the company that once did $15 billion a year in film sales might do just $200 million this year. When he asked audience members to raise their hands if they had purchased a roll of film in the last two years, only a few hands went up.

"Thanks, both of you," he said with a grin. "You made our year."

Text, video and image Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features

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