January 25, 2011
I grew up with quirky and fun Polaroid instant cameras and sunglasses in my house. I loved everything about the brand, including the colorful, shiny logo. So I was sad to see the company’s assets auctioned off in 2009 after Polaroid declared bankruptcy. Private equity firm Patriarch Partners, who targets distressed companies, snapped up Polaroids assets including their brand and IP for the bargain price of $59 million, then set their sites on rebuilding the iconic American brand… which brings us to Lady Gaga.
Fashion houses long ago started signing on celebrity “creative directors” to better connect their brands with their desired audiences. The trend continues in tech. At least year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Polaroid announced a multi-year strategic partnership with Lady Gaga, to serve as creative director for a specialty line of Polaroid Imaging products. This year they launched the Polaroid Grey Label by HAUS of GAGA.
At first glance, I saw the same large bulky products that Polaroid has a history of and didn’t get too excited. But after spending a little time at the booth and browsing the beautiful, glossy Grey Label product booklet, I’m in love again. The brand is embracing the creative and fun spirit that it was built on, and when you combine that with the quirkiness of Gaga, it makes perfect sense. Together they aim to bring “artistry to everyone”, making their products both functional and beautiful.
The 3 products unveiled are:
Polaprinter GL10 – a small, instant mobile printer that works with your cell phone, camera or laptop via Bluetooth or direct connection, and prints using *ZINK zero ink technology (see below). It’s smartphone app offers creative options like filters, borders and editing tools.
Polarez GL20 – sleek and funky sunglasses that have a built in camera allowing users to snap pictures and immediately display them on the glasses’ OLED screens (or upload other images to display).
Polaroid GL30 – a new version of the classic Polaroid camera that includes instant printing (using *ZINK zero ink technology) but is also digital so photos can be uploaded and shared. Stand it up in your living room to display as a digital photo frame and enhance those images with creative filters and borders.
* ZINK PaperTM is a composite material with cyan, yellow, and magenta dye crystals embedded inside. Before printing, the embedded dye crystals are clear, so ZINK Paper, looks like regular white photo paper. The products use heat to activate and colorize these crystals.
They are tools for creativity and expressions of creativity in and of themselves. This emphasis on the importance of art translates into products that have an almost sculptural form factor. These products have sleek, tactile surfaces… The overall aesthetics of these products and incorporation of design destails… make Polaroid Grey Label products an entirely new form of fashion accessory.
While it was a bit awkward watching Gaga on stage unveiling products and talking specs, I can see the match and the potential of her enormous audience to embrace the products. Video and photos below. Pardon the bad location – the mad rushing of the stage was a little out of control.
But why work with one celebrity when you can work with two? Polaroid announced a new collaboration with Chase Jarvis, photographer and director. According to Polaroid, this is a strategic and long-term relationship where Jarvis will be applying his unique artistry to create and curate original content, as well as advise on product endeavors for the company. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with together.
Watch the video of Lady Gaga introducing the new Polaprinter GL10 at CES 2011
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