Kodak CMO Hopes To Gain Mindshare With PGA Deal

headshotIt's not easy taking chances with a brand that has been around since 1888, built on trust, reliability and quality, but Jeffrey Hayzlett, chief business development officer and corporate VP--the de facto CMO--at Eastman Kodak Co., thought Kodak's time had come.

Many of the company's business units and products being built and sold by Kodak didn't even exist four years ago, and yet the Rochester, N.Y.-based company was still relying on traditional advertising and marketing methods.

"My job inside the company is to create tension wherever I go," Hayzlett told an audience during his keynote speech at AdTech in San Francisco on Thursday. "Our job as marketers is to take people to the edge of the table. Not take them over the edge, but take them to the edge."

Today, about 80% of Kodak's revenue comes from 19 product sets--half of which didn't exist two years ago, Hayzlett said, adding that all are No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 in the market today.



As products transitioned from traditional to digital, advertising and marketing strategies shifted too. The company went from spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" to sponsor the Olympics to investing in PGA tournaments. "We need to be a fast, digital company," he says. "If we screw up, we're at least going to do it faster. The Olympics, which happens every few years, doesn't fit into this model."

In June, Kodak will announce sponsorships for 26 PGA tournaments, one hole each game. The 26 most difficult holes will become the Kodak Challenge. The best 18-hole player will win $1 million dollars. Green-side tents stocked with cameras will let people take photos of the play. Hayzlett called the strategy to gain mindshare from sponsoring a PGA hole "flippin' brilliant."

Kodak also has been a sponsor of Nascar for years, spending between $28 million and $38 million on the event. The company now spends a fraction of that investment, but sees tens of millions of dollars in returns because digital has been integrated into the campaign.

The industry has begun to see the line blur between advertisement and media content because it's all about entertainment value, according to Hayzlett. This thinking led to a placement deal that put a Kodak inkjet printer on the reality show "Celebrity Apprentice." The timing wasn't perfect, coming as it did after the holiday season in January, but the hope was that it would put the company back on the map.

Did it ever. That episode of "Celebrity Apprentice," which features an all-star cast, turned into a controversial show with Gene Simmons from the rock band Kiss leading the charge. Simmons led the women's team. The opposing men's team failed to present a good brand strategy campaign, but delivered a successful message.

Hayzlett disliked the men's campaign, but he preferred it because the message was spot-on. The woman's team didn't have a value statement, he said. "During the show there were 4.4 mentions per minute of the Kodak name--every 12 to 13 seconds they said Kodak," he says. "You cannot buy that kind of advertising. We had 89 million impressions, and doubled sales the following week."

Stories appeared on "Access Hollywood" and in Rolling Stone magazine because Simmons didn't think the women's team should have lost. He dissed Hayzlett on the talk show "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Pure PR gold. Kodak did whatever it took to keep the controversy going.

Kodak continued to seeing that "small investment" grow, blending the message into several media, such as online, direct mail, print, and radio, as well as stickers that go on boxes. That message carried over into a spot that recently launched online, starring actor Vinny Pastore from "The Sopranos," a thug who stands peering into the trunk of a car. "I've been waiting a long time for this," Pastore says. "All the pain and suffering, leaving me dry for years."

The camera pans from him into the trunk of a car to reveal a printer. Pastore takes the printer out, throws it to the ground, and smashes it with a sledgehammer. He gets back in his car, looks to a new Kodak printer on the passenger seat, and says, Godfather-like, "Welcome to the family."

Bloggers expanded on Pastore's message with headlines that Kodak's board of directors didn't like, but the controversial posts led to nearly 2 million views on Kodak's site.

Facing backlash from the board of directors, Hayzlett let loose with the F-word during that meeting. "This is fuckin' awesome," he says he told them--because, as marketers, recognition is what Kodak wants. "I'm going to be the guy that talks about the elephants in the room. I'm not only going to talk about them, but I'm going to paint them, teach them a few tricks, and we're all going to get on and do a few tricks."

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