ners tabbed by Kodak, has led to a new
interest in DRTV among many different
Kodak divisions. And with the campaign
set to resurface this month, it looks like
direct response has a new set of believers
at a company long known as the innovator in the photography market.
From Lamdek, Allen transitioned into
the company’s professional photography
division. From there, he’s been one of
the company’s best utility players. “I’ve
been in the advertising and branding side,
on the marketing side, worked in professional, consumer and digital,” he says.
“I’ve worn a lot of hats in 23 years, but
these past 18 months have been among
the most satisfying during my tenure.”
But staying with the same company
23 years in an age like this is a rarity.
Why did Allen stick with Kodak so long?
“First, the brand has such unique equities,
it’s hard to find another that can compete,” he says. “The consumers have an
emotional connection to Kodak, which
has been bringing their images to life for
more than 100 years. The other thing is,
the different markets the company serves
A History of Commitment
Kodak’s long history includes many
firsts in the photography market (see sidebar). “Kodak invented the digital camera
in 1976,” Allen says. “And, though most
don’t realize it because the film part of
the business overshadowed it until this
decade, the company has been in the digital business, in either the professional or
consumer market, since 1990.”
However, the company fell behind
competitors in the digital market in the
late 1990s and early 2000s.
Kodak was surprised at how
rapidly the digital market
overtook the film market.
Allen says Kodak was only
the No. 7 digital photography brand in the U.S. as
late as 2002, before bringing
the EasyShare camera brand
to life. Today, Kodak’s
digital photography equipment is the No. 1 brand in
America — a position the Host Caroline Rhea came in prepared to shoot the long-form
company has grown used to DRTV show after using an EasyShare printer in her home.
“She was a convert,” says Rick Allen of Kodak.
throughout its history.
Allen’s personal history at Kodak reaches back 23 years.
After earning an electrical engineering
degree and working in that field for two
years, Allen returned to school, earning
an MBA in marketing and finance from
Syracuse University. During his second
year in the program, he was working at
the IBM product center when he received
a phone call.
“The caller was working on a venture
team at Kodak and looking for MBA
candidates with a technical background,”
Allen says. “The new division was called
Lamdek Fiber Optics. Being in on a new
venture — everyone in marketing should
have an experience like that. You have to
wear so many different hats.”
afford you the opportunity to move and
take on new challenges while still staying
within the same corporate structure.”
In early 2007, Allen and his team
were presented with one of those new
challenges, when Kodak introduced a
new line of all-in-one printers under the
EasyShare name. Priced between $149.99
and $299.99, the EasyShare 5100, 5300
and 5500 aimed to “break the paradigm
of how people would look at buying a
printer,” according to Allen.
The printer line offers print, scan and
copy capabilities, while allowing consum-