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Polaroid's Comeback: Style Over Substance?

Posted by Abe Sauer on January 13, 2010 04:01 PM

After emerging from bankruptcy for the second time, Polaroid is taking bold steps to recreate its once iconic brand.

Speaking at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, Scott Hardy, president of PLR IP Holdings LLC, told BusinessWeek, "The biggest asset Polaroid has developed out of the last 70 years is the brand name itself."

After its bankruptcy last year, the company has become an intellectual property holding company. Polaroid now licenses its "biggest asset" to the highest bidder, to be used on a wide range of electronics, from digital cameras to TVs to other minor gadgets. Revenue in 2009 was up 50 percent over 2008.

Polaroid, however, is not content to just squeeze the equity out of its brand. The company recently made two moves to bring a little life back.

First, it hired singer, performer, and fashion icon Lady GaGa as the brand's creative director. The move will certainly create a buzz with a demographic that has never even seen a classic Polaroid instant camera. Lady GaGa's role is not yet entirely clear but the company says there will be a branded line of Lady GaGa Polaroid devices that "will hit retail shelves starting in late 2010."

Speaking of Polaroid's iconic instant camera, the brand plans to bring it back with similar styling and with its classic instant film. The cameras will retail for around $100 and be released in 2010 (lava lamp not included).

Headline creating moves on Polaroid's part for sure, but is there any substance for the brand to build on? The occasional Lady GaGa Polaroid commercial and the re-birth of a retro gadget are great exposure, but isn't the brand more defined by the quality of the wide range of products it continues to license? Can a Lady GaGa costume cloak a brand with no real foundation, or is this just a good start?


Richard Karsten United States says:

GaGa has a shot. I personally know several polaroidosaurs.  Aaaah the smell of the chemical reaction, 60 second of anticipation to make a one-of-a-kind image.  And that's what makes it special, truly and literally one-of-a-kind.  If the House of GaGa can capture THAT magic and make it relevant to the digital age, we'll see a rebirth of an American iconic brand.  If GaGa is looking to cash in on her 15 minutes, she'll damage her priceless cache and the polaroidosaurs will go back to hoarding packs of film.

January 14, 2010 09:20 AM #

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