When it comes to advertising and promotions, Kodak Australasia holds an iconic place in Australia's cultural and photographic history. With almost 100 years of onshore production and retailing, Kodak held a market monopoly for many decades, and poured considerable resources into advertising, marketing and retail trade.
From its hallmark "Kodak moments" to its distinctive red and yellow logo, Kodak monopolised Australian air waves, television screens, billboards, magazines, shop windows and trade shows with its catchy marketing strategies. Kodak's marketing operations not only reached a general consumer audience, but also had significant impact across a range of industries, including medical, motion film and entertainment, the graphic arts, industrial, office and business, government and education.
Before the arrival of television in Australia in the late 1950s, Kodak Australasia’s advertising budget was heavily geared towards radio and print, with advertising posters taking centre stage in Australian magazines, newspapers, Kodak retail outlets and billboards. Despite holding a market monopoly in Australia, Kodak saw an opportunity to create strong brand awareness and consumer loyalty in the Kodak brand through the production of bright, colourful and joyful posters. Kodak not only aimed to reinforce the message that Kodak products were easy to use, but also that the very act of using these products would result in joy and happiness, as well as the preservation of lifelong memories.
The following gallery features a sample of Kodak Australasia’s posters from the 1930s-1990s. The earliest posters, from the 1930s-1960s, tended to focus on nostalgic and idealised representations of family life, womanhood and recreation, to informative messaging around the ease-of-use of Kodak film and cameras. During the 1970s-1980s, advertising shifted to focus on the youth market, with humour, fashion and loyalty in the “Australian made” brand becoming dominant themes. But nostalgia, family and fun still remained in Kodak advertisements right up to the 1990s, and even today.
Advertising Poster Gallery, 1930s-1990s
Kodak Australasia had a uniform approach to marketing and visual merchandising across all Kodak retail outlets, governed by a marketing management team based first in Sydney and later in Coburg, Melbourne. This team was responsible for ensuring accurate pricing, policies and branding throughout Australia and New Zealand, taking direction from Eastman Kodak in the United States, but adjusting their content to suit the needs of Australian retailers and consumers.
Almost all Kodak branch stores in the first half of the 20th century had glass fronted shop displays, and glass covered counters filled with a dazzling array of products. In the 1920s to 1950s in particular, Kodak shop windows across the country displayed a certain uniformity – there was usually a thematic or product focus in the window display, such as Cine-Kodak cameras or night time flash photography. Brochures, posters and pamphlets in their dozens were usually arranged around the products, and the overall effect was one of overwhelming mass, and choice of product. From the 1960s, displays became more modern and minimal, reflecting the influence of mid-century modernism on retail display trends.
Retail Shop Gallery, 1920s-1980s
With a diverse and expansive range of products – and a wide market of consumers that included professionals, specialists, amateurs and enthusiasts alike – Kodak Australasia produced a broad range of trade literature materials including price lists, publicity flyers, catalogues, brochures, pamphlets, dealer information, consumer information, instructional and educational booklets, and specialised handbooks.
While the majority of Kodak’s advertising budget was tailored towards amateur consumers, its trade literature was intended to reach a much wider audience-base, including medical professionals, graphic artists, motion filmmakers, photography teachers and industrial, office and retail employees. From innovative X-Ray technology for medical professionals through to lighting rig options for filmmakers, the following gallery provides a glimpse into the several thousands of trade literature items contained within Museum Victoria’s Kodak Heritage Collection.
Trade Literature Gallery, 1940s-1990s
When we reflect on Kodak Australasia’s advertising and retail activities over the decades, nostalgic magazine advertisements, catchy TV commercials and glimmering shop window displays are easily recognisable in Kodak’s popular culture and history. Trade shows and exhibitions are perhaps less well known, however for those that attended a Kodak trade show, they will no doubt remember the ornate displays, and the excitement of seeing a new product revealed in public for the first time, or showcased via a live, in-person demonstration.
With a wide range of specialist products coming to market each year, Kodak Australasia needed a way to meet directly with consumers and demonstrate the functions and usability of their products. Trade shows and exhibitions offered a unique and interpersonal way to bring consumers together with Kodak staff to discuss, showcase and demonstrate newly released Kodak products. From agricultural shows through to medical conferences, this gallery represents some of the trade shows and exhibitions that Kodak presented over the decades.