I want to be fair but at the same time I want to focus on reality. The title “Keep me. Protect me. Share me.” along with the other tagline above were the words Kodak chose for its 2005 ad. What a shame they didn’t see past this excellent campaign into their next gigantic breakthrough. As this story shows, having one idea is enough if you know what to do with it.
As one of the most venerable and cherished brands ever, Kodak, after all was the company that invented the first functioning consumer film camera in 1888. Their dry, transparent and flexible photographic film began the production of “rolled photography film.” In 1986, Kodak invented the world’s first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5×7-inch digital photo-quality print. Commonly known today as the digital camera.
Many would argue either of these were world-class breakthroughs on the order of the personal computer or the automobile. What strikes me as truly incredible is the television ad that Kodak commissioned in 2005 that had the embedded ideas of storing photographs in a ‘gallery’ and if someone had just thought one step further, could have captured the digital online storage market segment. And yet, even with more than a 100-year head start in its tail winds, Kodak was unable to steer a course into its future. Take a look at their ad and decide for yourself. How smart and close were they, and yet how far away from executing their next big idea?
We’ve all benefited from Kodak’s remarkable inventions and use them every day. Those of us in the strategy business should take note and learn from both the successes and failures of this awesome company.