Kodak's Marketing Secret: Laugh at Yourself

Last Updated Apr 12, 2010 8:34 AM EDT

I'm not sure whether you've noticed, but Eastman Kodak (the film company that almost got slaughtered when photography went digital) is back with a vengeance. The company's new products are selling like gangbusters and the brand (once considered almost dead) is stronger than ever.

Last week, I posted an interview with Jeff Hayzlett, the CMO responsible for the rebirth of the brand, where he discusses how they use social media, and other elements of 21st century marketing, to create buzz around their products. However, what I find interesting about Hazlett's approach is that it's very lighthearted, and dismissive of Kodak's long history of a brand.

To illustrate this, here's a video that he played, by way of introduction, at the recent Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. It's short, funny, and worth watching. My comments follow:


What's I find fascinating about this video is the way that it makes fun of the old, corny Kodak brand message and then uses humor to re-establish the same message, but adding a dose of irony. The company is simultaneously poking fun at itself while reminding you what you liked about the experience of using their product, and then encourages you get corny, only from the perspective of being "in" on the joke.

The vehicle for spreading this particular message is viral video, rather than television advertising, making the major expense of the marketing effort the cost of making the video. Probably the actor's fee was the biggest expense. And yet, it's a very useful piece of marketing that really accomplishes something very clever, in a very short amount of time.

Cheap, easy, leverages the Internet, bypasses big media, with a message based on customer experience.

This is 21st century brand marketing at its best.