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Interview: Kodak's Chris Payne discusses drupa, pt 3

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By James Matthews-Paul
23 May 2012

Kodak's Chris Payne emphasised the power of 'yellow' at drupa

Kodak's Chris Payne, vice-president of commercial marketing, talks with James Matthews-Paul about the company's drupa splash and what we could expect in four years' time, in the last of this three-part interview.

Catch up with parts one and two of this interview on Output

Do you think the printing industry in general needs to do a better job of linking printed products to the consumer?

It's not only a Kodak problem, for sure. Customers have expressed this to me: why can't you help us? It's most acute in America and in the UK. In America customers actually [ask], 'But why can't you get me in front of The Wall Street Journal to talk about [the print] business and all the positive things that we're doing?.'

It is an industry problem because, in general, the media thinks everything is going to go onto an iPad, which is clearly not the case: some things will, some things won't. But it's very clear that we have to improve – our product has to improve and the industry has to improve.

There was a statement made by chief executive Antonio Perez in the drupa press conference about the media 'giving Kodak a hard time'. Was this an appropriate thing to say to the B2B press, who have been largely very supportive?

[It was the consumer media] that he was referring to. I don't think he expressed it right in the meeting; he was referring to the business and national media, he wasn't referring to the trade media when he made that remark.

Our problem is the mainline media, the national media, the business press, they've known Kodak for centuries – 130 years. It was the equivalent of Google back then – the thing that allowed people to capture and share images, which Google and Facebook combined are doing today, and [Kodak] has had recognition for more than a century as one of the top ten brands in the world, up until very recently. So the mainline media knows us as a consumer company within the consumer and digital world, and it's a great story to write about. They don't really recognise Kodak as a B2B company, as a company that's got a huge focus in the graphic arts and commercial printing. And, for sure, we need to do a better job of that story.

Regarding your slogan, 'Yellow Changes Everything': why isn't it 'Kodak Changes Everything'? Wouldn't that have been a stronger, perhaps more reassuring message to put out?

Yellow is the Kodak brand; yellow is everything. We wanted to connect what we've done historically to where we're going in the future. So 'yellow' means a lot of things to people in terms of our brand identity. For some people that's a positive thing and for some people it's a negative thing. Either way I would argue, as a marketeer, that people talking about whether yellow is a good or bad thing, and whether it should be 'Kodak' or 'yellow', is actually a good thing because they're talking about it. The key message here is that industry is changing; our customers have to change, the applications are changing, and therefore the solutions they need are changing and Kodak has the broad portfolio to help them change.

Last drupa was the 'ink-jet' drupa or the 'workflow' drupa. For you, what would be the adjective for this drupa?

Hybrid. The word hybrid can be used in many contexts but in ours, the marriage of traditional ways of manufacturing print [plus] digital is really hybrid. You've got simple examples like putting printing heads onto offset presses. This drupa is way beyond that. What you're seeing here is the merging of that traditional knowledge of the applications with the digital technologies which enable you to customise, to provide shorter runs at a more efficient cost. And it's everywhere: it's why you see us on 40-odd different stands around the show. In order to access the potential market for things like Stream, you can get there a lot faster using tried and tested technologies and knowledge of the market that [the] different companies, as you walk through these halls, have.

What does drupa 2016 look like, and what will the Kodak stand look like?

It will be yellow. We'll have the same basic technologies but the implementation will be broader-based in terms of the number of applications, and the number of partners that we have that are providing those in all shapes and forms. If we're on 40 partners today, I imagine there will be more tomorrow and they'll be more significant.
 

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