Kodak straddles analogue and digital with camera-first smartphone for the creative and ‘style conscious’

Kodak has entered the smartphone market this week with the 21-megapixel Ektra model. However the launch does not symbolise a complete departure from the analogue world of the original Kodak moment, according to its VP of brand and creative, Danielle Atkins.

The Android-powered Ektra, which has been designed with electonics manufacturer Bullitt Group, is being marketed as a ‘camera first, phone second’ device.

The brand has managed to combine its rich heritage into 21st century demands in almost every sense: its high spec camera has been inspired by the original 35mm Ektra of the 1940s, yet the phone also features a 13-megapixel front facing camera for the selfie generation.

Similarly, purists are catered for with an app that sends digital photos away for processing and physical printing (delivered, naturally, in a yellow print package), while the Super 8 editing app lets those more accustomed to the immediacy of Instagram add filters inspired by Kodak’s film stocks. The phone has a personality, perhaps not but not one that every phone user will love with Kodak admitting it's not designed to target a specific demographic.

“Kodak is a creative brand for creative people, we always have been, and this camera phone has been designed for that audience specifically,” explained Atkins. “It’s also for a style-conscious audience, so people who are looking to differentiate themselves and be seen with a product that's slightly different to what everyone else has on the table.

“Our marketing activity reflects that,” she continued. “We're working with a number of Kodak brand influencers through social and digital, but also in other channels.”

As a photography brand, Kodak is naturally gravitating to Instagram as part of its social push. In the physical world it has launched the pop-up ‘Kodakery’ store in London’s Soho, which showcases the Ektra alongside its stock of film and analogue accessories, as well as the fruits of the brand’s newest collaboration with cult fashion label Opening Ceremony – namely beanies, biker jackets and graphic t-shirts.

Yet these overt nods towards Kodak’s own photographic history aren’t just navel-gazing, marketing gimmicks. The strategy is one that Atkinson believes will also shift products.

“You only have to look at the sales of vinyl records to see how an analogue platform is actually hugely commercially successful,” she said. “What I'm seeing is a huge number of younger people who are experimenting with analogue as well as digital, so I think we will always sit between [the two] - that for us is key to the brand and key to the whole experience.”

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Katie Deighton

Katie Deighton is The Drum’s senior reporter - creative and video based in London. She produces, films, presents and edits the title’s editorial video output, including series such as On The Scene, Ad Breakers and Why I Left Advertising, and manages its coverage of the creative sector. She also reports on the intersection between politics and marketing, as well as the third sector and fashion.

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