Ilford: how Creative Lynx brought the photography brand back from the brink without advertising or PR budget
For well over a century Ilford has enjoyed its place as one of the foremost names in imaging, trusted by businesses worldwide for its key specialisations in the development and manufacture of black and white and colour photographic materials, digital inkjet products and digital photo printing technology.
However, two years ago growth predictions were bleak. Black and white specialists were becoming marginalised as colour imaging became rapidly more accessible and less expensive than before both for business and consumer markets.
Ilford knew it was time to introduce new markets and products for the consumer desktop market. It asked Creative Lynx to find an innovative way to attract consumers to a brand that for over 100 years had been a name firmly established purely in the world of business.
In order to gain the recognition within the desktop consumer market that it had already achieved in the professional photographers and laboratories market, Ilford looked towards a specific brand that had been previously trademarked - Printasia.
To appeal to the home office user and the hobbyist Printasia needed to move away from Ilford's corporate image and create its own identity. It was decided that there should be clear core brand values to reflect what Printasia would be to the consumer, creative, fun, bright, colourful, versatile and easy to use.
There would be no advertising or PR budget to realise these aims so the products were completely reliant upon the retail outlet, point-of-sale material and, because of this, most importantly, the packaging.
To grab the attention of the browsing home office user or hobbyist packaging had to be an instant hit. Printasia needed to be more visually stimulating than its counterparts to stand out from the hundreds of similar products available.
There were several steps taken to achieve this. The brand was to be launched on a European basis and at the time multilingual covers were the industry norm, but this encroached on precious visual space so the decision was taken to produce specific country by country packaging.
First, the Printasia brand was launched to target the home enthusiast whereby they could produce and print their own photographs from their desktop in glossy or satin finishes. The Office Range followed in 2001 with a pack which included labels, business cards, CD labels, superior ink jet paper and presentation paper. People like to think of their home office as an efficient and organised place so the images chosen were of famous architectural buildings across the world. This gave a professional, dynamic and very different look from competitors who opted for less aspirational visuals of business cards, CD Labels etc.
Next the hobbyists were able to produce their own greetings cards and drawings and postcards with the Create Brand.
It was in the midst of these successful launches that the idea of producing a brand that would appeal to the adolescent market came to light - enter The Simpsons.
Stuart Wilson of the Creative Lynx Partnership explains: "The adolescent marketplace would seem an obvious one in hindsight. The mass appeal of The Simpsons made it the most desirable option as whole families often sit together and enjoy the 25 minutes or so of mayhem. As the parameters of technology widen, the Fun series can be used in different formats with endless commercial opportunities. Needless to say, many of the retailers accepted this product very enthusiastically."
The Fun series with The Simpsons images was readily agreed with Twentieth Century Fox and contains badges, stickers, postcards, presentation covers for school books/folders, identity cards and a party pack. Each piece is backprinted with a montage of Simpsons characters.
Alongside the bold illustration on the packaging, sales promotion activity was utilised to heighten the desirability to the consumer, i.e. their risk factor was taken away with a money-back guarantee stamped on the front cover, GSM weightage had been insisted on by one main retailer (why? - "looks impressive") and instead the strapline - "looks and feels like a real photograph".
Printasia will be launched worldwide this quarter and to date has established a year-on-year growth of 64% against a market growth of approximately 27%. As a result the Printasia brand is now one of the leader products for Ilford and will be set to grow with a range of promotional opportunities including new image manipulation software already on trial in the UK.
Info Trends recently announced that the digital imaging market is to grow from over $18bn to $60bn in 2003. They also stated that digital photography will outsell traditional film cameras by 2004 and that by 2005, 53% of all images printed in the US will be digital.
Without the success and take up of the initial Printasia packs, the brand would have been lost in what is an already highly competitive marketplace. Acceptance for retail sale has seen the Printasia brand on the shelves in Tesco, PC World and Staples.
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