It’s been 36 years since Paul Simon sang his hit song. By now, you’ve probably heard that Kodak announced the retirement of its KODACHROME Film concluding its 74-year run. And a fine run it was!
But memories aside, let’s look at this from a branding perspective and ask the question, “How well did Kodak handle their announcement?” Obviously, it had potential negative undertones because whenever a company drops a product from their line, particularly a well-known product, there can be repercussions. All in all, I think they did a fine job for the following reasons:
1. They announced the news as opposed to having someone notice the discontinuation. Companies often make the mistake of thinking that the market won’t notice but of course, it almost always does. By taking a proactive approach, Kodak was able to control the information flow and lead with its own story positioning all questions to come to them as the experts.
2. They were candid and straightforward in their communications stating, “It was a difficult decision given Kodachrome’s rich history.” This openness reinforced Kodak’s leadership position and provided the facts to communicate both the good and bad news.
3. They provided some terrific hooks for journalists to use in their articles and reviews. These included some great photos and videos by leading photographers who used Kodachrome for years.
4. I also like how they tagged their release so it was easy to use in print, newsprint, web-based publications and television news, if appropriate.
5. And lastly, they positioned the product’s retirement as an inevitability that all products face sooner or later. This helped remove any stigma from Kodak. By the way, it was a logical decision given the magnitude of digital photographs being taken worldwide.
Kodak stated, “Steve McCurry, whose picture of a young Afghan girl captured the hearts of millions of people around the world as she peered hauntingly from the cover of National Geographic Magazine in 1985.” Steve took this photograph using Kodachrome, of course.
So what does the passing of this product mean to the market? Little I suspect. But what does it mean to Kodak from a branding perspective? Although it wasn’t great news it was handled so professionally that Kodak was able to keep its brand integrity intact. Given the circumstances this branding event was handled extremely well.