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April 10, 2009

Photo Finish

Polaroid Will another of America’s iconic brands bite the dust, or live on through the miracles of brand extension?

Polaroid, which filed for Chapter 11 in 2001, has enjoyed a second lease on life through a variety of licensing deals, including Polaroid-branded digital cameras, flat-panel televisions, and DVD players.

Petters Group acquired the brand in 2005 for some $450 million. But another Chapter 11 followed in late 2008, amid accusations that CEO Tom Petters was running a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

The outcome of an auction currently underway for the Polaroid brand is as yet uncertain. This week, a federal bankruptcy judge threw out a bid for $56.3 million from a joint venture of liquidation specialists Hilco Consumer Capital and Gordon Brothers Brands. The other suitor is New York-based Patriarch Partners, which owns a stake in Arizona Iced Tea and in Rand McNally.


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i suppose the ultimate question is whether the polaroid brand has anymore value these days.

for fun, i just did a quick review of 2 unscientific, but nonetheless revealing sources:

1. brandtags.net -- noah brier’s site which catalogs the top-of-mind responses of people who have been shown a brand’s logo -- the top 10 responses for polaroid (excluding generic ones like pictures/photos/photography) are:

hmmm -- not a lot of positive associations there

2. "would you miss" series from brandautopsy.typepad.com -- occasionally john moore asks his readers whether or not they would miss a brand if it were gone -- the first 5 responses to that question about polaroid are:
- Miss it? I didn't even know it was still around till the other day.
- Yes I will miss it. Even today, Polaroids provided a very special "look" that is hard if not impossible to replicate in all-digital workflows.
- I know the security company I work PT for will miss it.
- I think I would miss it about once every five years.
- Well, as a former commercial photog who cranked off quite a lot of Polaroid transfers back in the day, yes, if I were still shooting, I'd miss it.

so, the brand doesn't seem to have a lot of emotional value, but there are some business applications for which the polaroid instant picture technology has some value

perhaps that's the direction any future buyer should take the company and the brand??

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Brand extensions are all around us — clothing from the Sierra Club, furniture polish from Steinway and, yes, even the kitchen sink from Jacuzzi. TippingSprung, a New York-based brand-extension consultancy, publishes an annual survey on brand extensions with Brandweek. If you spot a noteworthy extension for the blog or survey, email us.



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