Kodak champions print

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Kodak has launched a major multichannel marketing effort intended to cast print as a marketing medium in a positive light.

Despite the hype surrounding various media these days, marketers regularly spend more of their budget on direct mail than on broadcast media, according to Jeffrey Hayzlett, CMO of Kodak's Graphic Communications Group. He said Internet marketing only accounts for 3.6 percent of media space, so Kodak is looking to ensure that print gets its fair share of attention.

"Print is the new interactive media," Hayzlett said, referring to how digital print and variable data print can create customer relationships through highly customized pieces that can be turned around quickly. As a result, he insisted, it is the cost per response and not the cost per page that becomes the optimal way to look at digital print campaigns.

Recently, Kodak launched a series of print ads showcasing print's capabilities. Each features one of several taglines: Print is transporting; Print is personal; Print is powerful; and Print is transforming.

Kodak, Rochester, NY, has been undergoing major restructuring to transform it from a vertical film products company that was losing money by the fistful to a growing, profitable digital company. This is the last year of the restructuring program, and some of the changes are now apparent. For example, in 2006, Kodak's Film Products Group had sales of $2.3 billion while its Consumer Digital Imaging Group - which includes inkjet and retail printing - brought in $4.7 billion. The Graphic Communications Group, which includes Kodak's digital presses, had sales of $3.6 billion in 2006.

The "Print is" ads are currently appearing in graphics publications and will soon add a variety of trade media. The goal is to reach anyone who has input on what type of media is used by a company: CMOs, marketing managers, CEOs, CFOs and CIOs, as well as direct mail agencies and ad agencies.

"We want to position print as a viable [medium] in front of decision makers and the marketers who control spend of their budget," Hayzlett noted.

A Web site at www.printambassador.com, was launched to highlight print's capabilities. The site is dedicated to showcasing the many benefits of print, and features an "ask the experts" section, links to industry groups and a request form for anyone who is looking to find a vendor to do their printing.

In the future, Kodak hopes to post comments from well-known writers about how print has touched their lives. It also plans to provide commercial printers with the tools necessary to put a banner on their own Web sites that will take visitors to the Print Ambassador site.

The Print Ambassador home page features a streaming video starring the actor who appeared in last fall's Kodak video. That piece became the fastest-growing viral video by a corporation, and it won attention from Good Morning America. It was punctuated by the use of the word, "boo-yah," and brought a comical touch to a business-to-business marketing vehicle.

A similar approach is evident in the Print Ambassador video. "Here's this older executive-looking figure who's really saying, æWe're not your father's Kodak anymore,'" Hayzlett explained. He said the videos are intentionally edgy, as Kodak tries to appeal to a different age group and a more diverse audience. Expect to see actor Steve Tom in campaigns from Kodak in the future, he added.

Kodak is working with ad agency Partners & Napier, Rochester, NY, for the campaigns. Together, the campaigns represent "a major initiative for us," Hayzlett said, adding that the company has put a significant amount of time and effort into them.

In three weeks, the conversion rate for the Print Ambassador Web site was close to 80 percent, according to Hayzlett. "People want to learn more about customization and are using that information in some type of campaign -which is leading to more business for our print network," he said.

Kodak uses direct mail as part of this wide-reaching effort to drive print sales for its printers. Hayzlett says Kodak personnel speak at industry events about the power of print. For each event, Kodak sends direct mail to the group's mailing list with information about the upcoming speech, and how to get more information beforehand by going to the Print Ambassador Web site. Kodak follows up with another letter after the speech. "This is a good portion of what drives a number of our leads," Hayzlett said.

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