Friday, January 18, 2008

Gene Simmons Fired! Celebrity Apprentice Review

The challenge was to come up with a promotional campaign for Kodak's (symbol EK) new all in one printer. The company, which was very late to the game in going digital, is now trying the old "razor and blade" strategy. They hope that their new lower priced inks (allegedly half the price of competitors) will revitalize the company.

Simmon's chose to ignore the input of the company executives in devising his campaign. If he were himself a major shareholder or top exec with Kodak, going with his own vision might have been a good idea. When you're hired help, the customer has the last word. When it was announced that Simmon's team lost the challenge, he boldly proclaimed that the company was wrong, long story short: he was fired.

Simmon's was wrong from the perspective of employee/employer relations, but he was dead on in his approach to revitalizing Kodak. His campaign "It's a Kodak world" was about promoting the brand, not so much the new product or the ink. Kodak went with the much sloppier presentation by the other team because it did what they asked for. It promoted cheap ink.

Kodak is not going to become the world leader in image capture and reproduction by becoming a commodities broker. That's what ink is, a commodity. Their new cheaper cartridges will be driving down the price of ink cartridges across the board. If Kodak relies on "we're cheaper" to drive sales, what are they going to do when Canon and HP match or beat their price?

Kodak needs to realize it's in the image business; capture, storage, reproduction, display, transfer, manipulation. They don't need to develop the latest technologies in any of these areas in-house. They need to reestablish their brand and attach it to the latest developments. They still have global brand recognition. Their strength going forward could be in marketing and distribution of image related products and services, even those they don't develop themselves. I don't believe they are going to recognize this any time soon, and their stock price chart reflects that.

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