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Strategy Session: Polaroid—A New Twist on a Storied Brand

November 2012 By Jerry Grossman
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There was a time, not too long ago, that Polaroid cameras were ubiquitous. In many ways, Polaroid was the original photo-sharing camera. Now, in the age of digital, Polaroid is back trying to reclaim its roots as the ultimate sharing brand. I spoke with Scott Hardy, Polaroid’s CEO and president, about their resurgence and business strategy going forward.

JG: Tell me a little bit about where you came from.

I got involved with Polaroid back in 2004, initially as a licensee, and then I joined Polaroid Corporation in 2005 through a merger. When I first joined the company I headed up product development for the business that included product management, product planning and R&D, and I managed some of the sourcing relationships. In 2007 I was made the general manager and executive vice president of the Americas territory, in charge of all aspects of the area, including sales, marketing, product management sourcing, service and logistics. Then the company was sold in 2009 to a group of private equity investors, and at that point I was appointed president of the business.

Obviously Polaroid has a rich history in photography, but has it become more of a licensing brand?

In 2009, the company was acquired by a joint venture group, Gordon Brothers out of Boston, Massachusetts—a 110-year-old global advisory, lending and investment firm—Hilco Trading out of Chicago, and Knight’s Bridge Capital Partners out of Toronto. Their business model was to take vertical brands and transform them into IP holding companies that license out their trademarks as a brand licensor and marketing company. The rationale being they’re able to rebuild the brand without significant working capital to run the day-to-day operations while letting third parties who are experts in their respective areas go to market for a specfic category in a specific territory as the exclusive licensee.

One example is our digital camera licensee; it’s a company called Sakar International, which owns the Vivitar brand. They’ve taken on Polaroid to augment their product portfolio and service two different product segments. So starting in 2009, we basically took what was a vertical company and made it into a pure licensing company, with some product development and heavy marketing.

Another company we work with is C&A Marketing, which recently acquired key portions of Ritz Camera. C&A is our instant camera, camera accessory and action sports camera licensee. So for our ZINK digital instant cameras, C&A is our go-to-market partner.  


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