Like many established companies and brands, in recent years Eastman Kodak Company had found itself dealing with two emerging trends.  First, it had become less relevant to a new segment of consumers, Generation Y, for whom the name Kodak did not elicit strong loyalty.  Second, Kodak is part of an industry, photo imaging, which is evolving at a rapid pace and becoming increasingly competitive with the introduction of new digital and online technologies.  These challenges required the company to take a close look at its current sources of revenue, product lines, and status in the marketplace—and develop a strategy for finding and taking advantage of new marketing opportunities.  The result in 2000 was an award-worthy initiative that made great strides toward positioning Kodak as vital and relevant to this key demographic segment.


In 1999, Kodak conducted research that revealed a huge marketing opportunity with the teen market.  Children 12 to 17 now total 31 million, the largest demographic in 20 years, and are expected to grow to 35 million by 2010. Their buying power has exploded in recent years.  Teens spend close to $155 billion a year and influence another $50 billion in family spending.  With these impressive numbers in hand, Kodak and Weber Shandwick needed to determine what makes this elusive audience tick.  Research revealed that teens want desperately to be cool, to have (as Newsweek calls it) the “right stuff.”  They love music, radio and CDs—to the tune of 19 hours a week.  They like to hang out with friends, often at the mall, for another 8 hours a week.  They place a premium on good causes, with 85% valuing companies that support issues they care about.  Lastly, in a sign of the great potential of this market, 94% of teen girls like to take pictures (a much higher number than boys), but they only spend one out of every thousand dollars on photography.


With this research in hand, we devised the following objectives for this campaign:

  • Enhance image of, and loyalty to, Kodak among teen girls
  • Increase picture-taking among teen girls
  • Blunt aggressive encroachment of competitors

We faced challenges in achieving these goals.  First, although brand awareness for Kodak was high at 90%, the company was not considered “cool” among teens—it was nowhere to be found in the Top 20 coolest brands list.  To overcome this, we needed to demonstrate an understanding of teens’ lives and the things that are important to them.  Second, Kodak’s competition was also aggressively targeting the teen market with significantly more ambitious programs and budgets.  In particular, Polaroid was making headway with the iZone camera, while Fuji was touting its new Quick Snap Colors product.  To counter this, we needed to create an integrated, relevant program that broke through the competition and hit teens where they lived and shopped.  Third, although teens have tremendous buying power as a group, their average weekly spending totals about $50.  We knew that the Kodak product incorporated into this effort needed to be affordable, as well as compatible with teens’ on-the-go lifestyle.

With the opportunities, challenges and objectives clearly spelled out, we decided to align ourselves with a hot new boy band, Youngstown, and sponsor a 20-city mall tour.  Kodak’s sponsorship of Youngstown reflected its need to raise the company’s “cool factor” among tweens.  The Hollywood Records-promoted group was rapidly gaining popularity among girls—having sold 300,000 copies of its debut album, contributing a hit song to the “Inspector Gadget” soundtrack, and preparing for a concert on The Disney Channel (which had helped propel Britney Spears and N Sync to fame).  Youngstown was on the cusp of breaking through, but still new enough that a favorable sponsorship deal could be negotiated.  

Youngtown’s “Kodak Through Your Eyes” tour meshed seamlessly with teens’ love of music and their desire to hang out with friends at the mall.  It proved flexible enough to accommodate a cause-related tie-in with Volunteers Of America, which research told us would resonate with the target audience and provide needed ammunition for publicity.  It allowed us to set up local market radio promotions that drove traffic to the concerts.  And it enabled us to showcase Kodak for hands-on sampling and purchase in an environment where teens were already shopping.  The chosen product, Kodak’s Max Flash one-time-use-camera, was ideal from a price and versatility standpoint.


Each market in the tour—including major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Atlanta—followed the same successful formula.  The band arrived at the designated mall in a bright, Kodak/Youngstown-themed bus and performed before hundreds, sometimes thousands, of screaming fans on a Kodak-themed stage displaying products and pictures.  Before and after the concert, we conducted heavy product sampling and encouraged girls to take photos with the band, or have their pictures signed.  Autograph lines often stretched for three hours.

A key part of the concert was the Teen Volunteer Fair, sponsored by Kodak and Volunteers Of America.  VOA set up tables featuring local charity representatives, and answered questions, displayed literature, and encouraged teens to sign up for community service.  We created VOA/Kodak tablecloths and stationed tables where teens filed past as they waited to get autographs from the band.  We also integrated the volunteer angle further into the promotion by including it in a photo contest involving mall retailer Sam Goody.  Entrants were asked to send in photos of them conducting volunteer work in order to win a Youngstown concert at their school.

Weber Shandwick and Kodak aggressively publicized each appearance by distributing press releases and media alerts to local print and broadcast media; setting up interviews for band members both on-site at the malls and in-studio at TV stations; offering Kodak product giveaways as part of radio station promotional packages; and creating pre-recorded public service announcements from Youngstown touting local Volunteers Of America affiliates.  In advance of the publicity outreach effort, we thoroughly media trained the band on key messages to deliver during interviews.  (These included positioning Kodak Max Flash cameras as cool, fun and affordable, as well as a necessary part of a teen girl’s life.)  We also made sure that Kodak and Weber Shandwick staff was on hand at each concert to facilitate all event logistics and media interviews.


Overall, the program was very successful in meeting our objectives.  We were effective in enhancing the image of, and loyalty to, Kodak among teen girls; increasing picture taking among girls; and helping Kodak blunt its competition in the marketplace.  Specific results include:

  • Image/Loyalty:  Teen girls’ preference for Kodak one-time-use cameras increased from 54% in fall ’99 (before the tour) to 65% in fall ’00 (after the tour).  Teen girls who rated Kodak’s cameras as “cool” increased from 32% to 36%, a significant jump in a hard-to-shift category.
  • Picture Taking:  Teen girls who said Kodak “is good for using everyday” increased from 62% to 80%, representing a concrete increase in intent to take pictures.  Teen girls who said they’d like to take Kodak wherever they go increased from 17% to 22%.  Those who said they had used a Kodak camera in the past two months increased from 19% to 25%.
  • Competition:  As Kodak brand loyalty increased, we saw a corresponding drop in consumer “ambivalence” with regard to the competition.  The percentage of girls who thought that either Kodak or Fuji was fine for them decreased from 53 to 44, while the percentage who were satisfied with whatever brand their parents purchased decreased from 55 to 46.
In addition to the above, the campaign generated over 35 million media impressions in 20 markets.  Between 15,000 and 20,000 girls attended the concerts in total.  We saw multiple print and broadcast coverage in almost every market, and the news juxtaposition of Kodak with Youngstown, music and malls effectively elevated the brand as relevant to teens’ lives.