Kodak Inks a New DRTV Blockbuster1 May, 2008 By: Thomas Haire Response
Rick Allen says the wildly successful long-form campaign for the company's new EasyShare printer is just the first of many direct response initiatives to come for the nation's longest-lasting photography brand.
In early 2007, Allen and his team were presented with one of those new challenges, when Kodak introduced a new line of all-in-one printers under the EasyShare name. Priced between $149.99 and $299.99, the EasyShare 5100, 5300 and 5500 aimed to "break the paradigm of how people would look at buying a printer," according to Allen.
The printer line offers print, scan and copy capabilities, while allowing consumers to print documents and Kodak lab-quality photos at home using premium, pigment-based inks that were priced well below other printer ink on the market. A cartridge of black ink for an EasyShare printer costs $9.99, while a five-ink color cartridge runs $14.99. Kodak contends that when consumers buy its "Photo Value Pack," a 4-inch by 6-inch print can cost as little as 10 cents to print.
"When the EasyShare was launched last January, Kodak was entering a well-established market with dominant players," Allen says. "But we had a unique story to share. Most manufacturers in the market were almost giving away the printer in order to lock you into their ink products. The low-cost printer is the razor, while the ink was the blade — prices for ink had become exorbitant. We believe you ought to be able to afford the ink to print what you want — a consumer shouldn't have to spend $75 for ink cartridges."
Kodak: A Brief History
The question for the Kodak team charged with marketing the EasyShare line was how to drive interest in the story they had to deliver to get consumers to understand the difference between their product and those from HP or Lexmark. He contends, "How do you communicate the full story? The challenge was to find a mix of vehicles — in long-form and short-form media — and the right balance to make it work. We had to ask 'Is there another vehicle that gives us the opportunity to communicate our total message?'"
It was at that point that Allen says Kodak approached its ad agency partners at the Kaplan Thaler Group to "get our heads around the unique selling proposition (USP) of the EasyShare." Soon after those discussions started, it became clear. "This was the perfect opportunity for an infomercial — it's a great brand with a great heritage and the product has a very clear USP," he says.
Allen contends that the experiences of other major companies affected his decision to take the EasyShare printer to DRTV. "Before deciding to do this, we looked at a number of case histories," he says. "We looked a lot at Bose, as another consumer electronic product, and saw how they sold product and built their retail channel. It was a big inspiration."
The decision to build an infomercial was finalized in September 2007 — just seven weeks before the campaign's planned rollout for holiday shoppers at Thanksgiving.
Bringing Kodak to Life!
Allen contends the campaign could not have come together without a core group in the Kodak family. "Our internal team was fantastic," he says. "Ben Smith and Amber York worked on the regional side, helping us with logistics. Lisa Hackett and Kelly Kay coordinated production and media, while Joe Nardone represented the product from the printer group."
This group effort was crucial in order to create a direct response TV program in such a short timeframe. "We've used a number of different DR vehicles in both the B-to-B and B-to-C spaces, but never an infomercial format," Allen says. "The company had some experience with two other infomercials, one in the late 1990s and the other earlier this decade. But both faced serious challenges because the teams behind them didn't stay true to the DRTV format, trying to mix in multiple objectives rather than simply making the best offer."
This time around, though, there would be no such mistake as, with the help of Kaplan Thaler, production house MayhewBreen and media buyer Euro RSCG Edge, the Kodak team decided to feature the midrange EasyShare 5300 (suggested retail price $199.99) in the long-form ad. Allen says, "Our agency, production and media partners are so familiar with the DRTV market, they helped us learn quickly and make the right choices."
The long-form show hit the airwaves just after Thanksgiving. What followed was astounding. "We exceeded our sales goals by 20 percent," Allen says. According to production house MayhewBreen, nearly 300,000 EasyShare printers were sold via phone, Web and retail during the show's less-than-30-day run.
Allen is more measured in his response to questions about the campaign's overwhelming success. "We simply exceeded all expectations. The show achieved phenomenal results in direct response and provided great lift at retail. Before we went on-air, we wanted to make sure we had sufficient inventory for both DR orders and retailers. When we sold through all pre-packed product, the phones just kept ringing," he says. A visit to the Kodakoffer.com Web site (where viewers of the infomercial were directed) today simply directs consumers to visit retailers including the Kodak Store, Best Buy, Office Depot, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Circuit City.
Kodak plans on reintroducing the DRTV ad this month. At the same time, "Kodak plans to create and introduce new product streams via DRTV, and we are cutting a new infomercial for the EasyShare in the second quarter," says Allen. "It should be on-air in the second half of 2008."