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Two former TV stars with ties to old-school Eastman Kodak Co. marketing efforts were in the headlines this week for legal troubles. Comedian Bill Cosby, long-time spokesperson for Kodak film and Colorwatch System photofinishing, was found guilty this week of sexual assault.
In other news, “Smallville” star Allison Mack, who was featured in a youth lifestyle campaign, plead not guilty to sex trafficking after federal prosecutors said she worked to recruit unsuspecting women to a cult-like group.
In 1986, the New York Times reported Cosby signed a three-year contract with Kodak to be an all-media spokesman. Terms weren’t disclosed, but the article stated the contact would have been in the $10 million range.
At the time, Cosby was appearing in ads for Jell-O, and E. F. Hutton, and had previously appeared in ads for Ford, Coca-Cola and Texas Instruments.
Mack was part of Kodak’s youth-oriented campaign for Kodak Plus Digital single-use cameras, through a partnership with The WB Television Network, in 2003. In the campaign, Mack had a personal “weblog” featuring exclusive photos taken with the Kodak Plus Digital one-time-use camera. Consumers also received a Bonus CD highlighting exclusive content from The WB’s fall season lineup when they picked up their prints.
The Kodak campaign was an interesting product of its time as, in 2003, digital cameras were only beginning to go mainstream and smartphones were still years away. “Getting film pictures digital” was a major industry focus in the early “aughts,” as affordable digital capture quality was middling. Digitizing film at the point of processing was key to both extending the life of film and easing the consumer’s transition to a digital workflow.
Let’s just hope more recent Kodak celebrity endorsers Rihanna, Pitbull, Drake and Trey Songz can dodge the curse.