Sable&Hawkes

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What lies beneath. Incidents and accidents, hints and allegations.

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In praise of Polaroid: and all that's black and blocky

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We were always quoted in Marketing College the classic NPD examples of Polaroid and of course Kodak and their ‘well we did not see that coming’ approach to the march of digital. In fact I remember reading an article in the Independent way back in 2012 titled ‘The moment it all went wrong’ tracing Kodaks 128-year history and ultimate walk through the unhallowed halls of the bankruptcy courts.

But steady down barker … Polaroid Originals has just unveiled a new analogue instant camera which lets the photographer use a range of digital creative tools like double exposure and light painting, by connecting to a phone app. Before you start imagining the sleek design stylings, lines and hues of your average phone of computer these days, it still has that blocky plastic design that screams ‘retro’ and even by the standards of instant cameras this one is driven by nostalgia with clear design cues from the original 1977 Polaroid OneStep instant camera.

So good for them. Good for Polaroid. And its a great story, any quick Google will give you the potted history but Wired did a good piece recently called:

“The life, death and rebirth of instant film”
(www.wired.co.uk/article/polaroid-week-roundup)

As the article recounts:

"Days before the last remaining Polaroid factory closed down, The Impossible Project reclaimed it. The company nows makes film in both colour and black and white, for Polaroid 600-type, SX-70 and Image/Spectra cameras, as well as large format 8x10 film. And, last year, they created the a camera for the original instant film format, the first in 20 years, and updating it for the digital age - powered by a smartphone app.”

And here we have it. The OneStep+ follows on from the OneStep 2 camera, which was released last year – as the company itself proclaims “Digital and analogue in harmony”.

“We always saw digital and analogue as two worlds living in harmony, rather than competition,” says Polaroid Originals CEO Oskar Smolokowski. “The idea for the OneStep+ really came from trying to solve the question of how to combine the strengths of each in the most fun and interesting way possible.

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“Analogue is imperfect, meaningful and magical. Digital is precise, powerful and super adaptive to any task you may be doing.

“So the idea was to infuse some of the strengths of digital into the analogue experience and output.”

Well, possibly, but actually whatever, for me, its just a great story, and a courageous leap of business (and brand) faith, that this amateur snapper and marketer hopes will pay off for this grand old company.

Adrian Kimpton