Monthly Archives: February 2012

Kodak ends an era

Kodak has been in business for more than 132 years – and it has seen a lot of changes in the American lifestyle during that time. Once the world’s leader in film, Kodak announced it is in be Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and that the company will exit the digital photography business in June 2012.

Kodak is a story familiar to many in the business world as the company with the iconic cameras – including the Brownie and the Instamatic. Over the years the company has entered new markets with products such as printers, digital cameras, photo technology, and digital photo frames. Until the 1990s, Kodak spent $4 billion to develop photo technology inside most of today’s cell phones. However, the company feared cannibalizing its own markets and delayed its market entry to 2001.

The company is pursuing markets for home photo printers, high-speed commercial inkjet presses, workflow software, and packaging as the core for its future.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. CNN Money video clip: http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/09/technology/kodak_digital_cameras/index.htm
  2. Ask students how many of them have cameras. Count how many are film vs. digital (include cell phones, too).
  3. What are some of the products and businesses that Kodak has been in over the years?
  4. What are opportunities for the company to pursue?
    1. Digital photography
    2. Social media
    3. New technology
    4. Have students research the company and develop a time line of the products introduced over the years. How do these products track American life?
      1. WSJ has an interactive time line at this site: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203471004577140841495542810.html#project%3DTIMELINEREDESIGN11_KODAK1011%26articleTabs%3Dinteractive
      2. What are impacts of delaying new product launches?

Source:   CNN Money, 2/9/12; Associated Press, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/10/12

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“Linsanity” – did it go too far?

It’s just ice cream – or is it? The folks at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream are known for having an irreverent sense of humor in their ice cream flavors and names. (Remember last winter’s “Schweddy Balls” ice cream – a spoof of a famous Saturday Night Live episode with Alec Baldwin?) The company may not always hit a home run, but they go to up to the plate swinging and fearless.

The latest Ben & Jerry’s controversy centers around New York basketball star Jeremy Lin. The 23-year old Harvard graduate is the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. Following on his success on the basketball court, the tall star has been actively courted and signed deals with companies to use his name and profile on their products, including the perennial sports powerhouse – Nike.

But back to ice cream – in honor of the local Harvard grad, the Ben & Jerry’s Harvard Square “scoop shop” in Cambridge, launched its own tribute to Lin with a new flavor dubbed “Taste the Lin-Sanity.” The ice cream is a mixture of vanilla frozen yogurt and lychee honey swirls, and was originally served with fortune cookie pieces mixed into the ice cream. However, the fortune cookie inclusion brought on complaints that the company was racist.  Consumer backlash on social media sites quickly prompted the company to reformulate the product and use waffle cone pieces instead of fortune cookies. The company apologized on Facebook, noting that the intent was to “create a flavor to honor Jeremy Lin’s accomplishments and his meteoric rise in the NBA.”

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Have students review the Ben & Jerry’s Web site. http://www.benjerry.com/
    1. What are flavors?
    2. How does the company use packaging effectively?
    3. What are the target markets? Distribution channels?
    4. How does the company do its research and product development?
    5. What are implications for charges of racism in the product?
      1. What specifically was done?
      2. What groups were offended? Why?
      3. How could Ben & Jerry’s have avoided this situation?
      4. What are implications for other companies with regards to offending ethnic groups?
      5. What are other examples of companies using promotion or components that could be considered racist?
      6. Bonus: for fun, show the “Schweddy Balls” video clip and discuss the use of humor by Ben & Jerry’s. http://www.benjerry.com/flavors/feature/schweddy/
        1. When does humor work? When does it not work?
        2. What was the backlash from this product and consumer groups?

 

 

Source:  Brandchannel.com 2/28/12, New York Times, Boston Globe

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Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl has become an advertising event in addition to a worldwide athletic event. Companies now leak the Super Bowl ads weeks before the main event in order to gain buzz and word-of-mouth exposure. With 30-second commercials costing $3 million, the Super Bowl represents a significant advertising expense for companies. And, thanks to the Internet and YouTube, the Super Bowl commercials have a longer life than the original airing.
An important consider for all the ads is the manner in which they integrate (or not) with the company’s other advertisements, include print, TV, and Web site. Many companies go for broke with Super Bowl ads and neglect the strategic planning necessary to fit these ads with their on-going promotional campaigns. Look for messages that either connect, or not, with the company’s main message and core values.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
1. Play each advertisement (all can be found on http://www.YouTube.com and at http://www.Adage.com (see link below)
http://adage.com/article/the-viral-video-chart/m-ms-kicks-vw-s-dog-battle-web-super-bowl-ads/232767/
2. Divide the students into team and have each team analyze an ad with respect to the following elements:
a. Target market
b. Key message
c. Value to customer
d. Graphics and words
e. Integration with company’s other ads and Web site
3. For an additional activity, compare this year’s ads with previous year’s Super Bowl ads.

Source: Advertising Age, 2/16/12

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