Campaign Trail is our analysis of some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world. View past columns in the archives here.
Warm hues, a saturated palette and intimate moments: For 73 years, Polaroid has helped people engrave snippets of their lives into instant film, though it wasn't until the 1960s that the now-storied brand got its rainbow logo. Now, it's looking to bring back the Technicolor aesthetic and spirit of the '60s and '70s in a collaboration with clothing brand Lacoste.
A fresh marketing campaign and capsule collection that hit stores in mid-March are anchored by a stop-motion video that elicits the feel of instant film squares, stirring energy and optimism in viewers following more than a year of life under the pandemic. The rich colors of the legacy camera brand's logo are embedded throughout the 48-second clip that features dancers in colorful Lacoste garments, who appear as if in perpetual movement chopping from one frame to the next.
"We see this campaign as a collaboration between two famous brands that have always celebrated colors in their heritage," said Olivier Aumard, creative director at Lacoste's agency BETC Paris. "The core concept of a Polaroid is to reveal colors on a paper film. And Lacoste has been playing with colors for a long time, especially with its polo collections."
Through color, the campaign and broader cross-brand collaboration are about changing perspective, putting one's best foot forward and living in the present, an announcement from Lacoste notes. It signifies consumers' opportunity this spring to make a fresh start and prepare to make new memories following a rough 2020.
'Liberation of movement'
The crux of this new partnership is the capsule collection of Lacoste polo shirts, sneakers, hats, watches and backpacks, blending the clothing maker's sporty designs with vibrant accents and rainbow stripes that channel Polaroid's recognizable logo. A limited-edition Polaroid camera embossed with Lacoste's distinctive crocodile branding was also developed as part of the collaboration.
Lacoste is distributing the stop-motion clip on its owned social media channels to promote the partnership, as well as constructing oversized displays at several stores. One location strapped jumbo inflatable crocodiles atop its roof, while another in New York painted a rainbow-striped walkway out front. A third shop showed massive print ads of a Polaroid image depicting one of the film's dancers.
A second video provides a look behind-the-scenes of the commercial, showing stacks of instant film squares and dancers practicing their moves. The making-of clip is paired with the same audio as the campaign's anthem spot — a track that aligns with the creative in how it represents the liberation of movement, according to BETC Creative Director Aurélie Scalabre.
"We believe that the soundtrack is perfect for this film," Scalabre said. "The music accentuates the jerky aspect of the project and the stop-motion concept of the film. We spent a lot of time refining the sound in the studio before landing on the perfect mix in total synchronization with the images."
As for casting, BETC selected dancers that specialize in the jookin style of dance because its funky moves and choppy rhythm could help to amplify the campaign's energetic message, Scalabre added.
BETC and the brands began developing the creative concept in September 2020, and two months later shot the all-new footage at an industrial harbor in Marseille, France.
"Very quickly, we decided that we wanted to express the union between the two brands. We based the idea of the campaign on the Polaroid, as an object," Aumard said. "From that came the concept of making a stop-motion film using Polaroid pictures as much as possible.
"The main idea of the campaign was very beautiful but also very ambitious in terms of production. It can seem easy on paper to decide to shoot a stop-motion film using Polaroid pictures. But it turns out that Polaroids take a lot of time to develop, and it made the production quite complex."
BETC and Simon Schmitt, director of the stop-motion film, found a workaround to instant film's lengthy developing process by also shooting with a digital camera that resembles Polaroid's look and feel.
This campaign with Lacoste is the latest chapter in Polaroid's comeback story. The advent of digital cameras and smartphones forced the company to file for bankruptcy twice between 2001 and 2009 and churn through six CEOs in as many years. In 2017, CEO Oskar Smolokowski's family bought Polaroid and pivoted the brand to innovate in modern product categories while embracing contemporary marketing approaches, such as leveraging social media, user-generated content, experiential activations and influencers.
Last year, Polaroid underwent a brand refresh to bring more clarity to its place in today's digital era and embarked on a new creative direction with "Forever Now," a campaign emphasizing the need to treasure life's simple moments.
As for Lacoste, the partnership with Polaroid celebrates unity.
"Lacoste's brand is evolving towards a communication that is all about collective. In this operation, we celebrated culture and diversity, with dancers and skaters, which is quite new for the brand," Aumard said.