Grey Label: The Love Child of Polaroid and Gaga

Polaroid was one innovative company in its heyday. Wonderful inventions such as polarized sunglasses, instant cameras, and the noun ‘Polaroid’, were a few of their claims to fame. They, however, failed to see the potential in their early digital camera model, and stuck to their forte, instant film…essentially allowing the digital market to swallow them up. They filed Chapter 11 on day 11 of October in 2001.

Fast-forward to January 2011 and Polaroid has done it again…literally. They have produced the Grey Label line including the GL10, a pocket-sized (even if large pocket) wireless insta-printer-thingamajig, the GL20 (a combination of two of their most popular products, the camera and the sunglasses), and the GL30 (well…the instant camera all over again). However, in one masterstroke, they have linked these products to one of the most Googled names on the planet…Lady Gaga! Talk about a comeback. The genius doesn’t just stop at the rebranding; my guess is that Polaroid won’t be immediately spending too much liquid cash for Gaga’s services, seeing that they’ve given her a position in their company…Creative Director. Is this just some fancy title or will she really be calling the shots where the brand is concerned? It doesn’t matter. Either way, I predict a win for Polaroid but on one condition…they must be able to keep up.



I’m not fully convinced Gaga is famous for her intelligence or the aesthetics of her 'designs', but the fact that she is consistently different helps her stand out…and standing out is enough for now. Being consistently different will do until being consistently different isn’t…um…different anymore. Gaga's current 'freshness' is why I can expect that Polaroid will initially sell loads of these new products even if they are a tad gimmicky and/or obsolete. Seriously, not everyone can pull off wearing sunglasses indoors, not to talk of the slight but tangible compromise in visual acuity. Even Gaga herself showed the irony at the product reveal when she couldn’t tell that the printer was on and said “sorry I’m wearing sunglasses, I couldn’t see the light”. I also can’t imagine too many people saying, “I need instant prints so urgently I gotta carry one of these things around”. Sure they’ll be great for the “bar magic party trick” but the reason why people were willing to endure any potential loss of aesthetic, enlargement and/or preservation value was due to the need for instant gratification which the digital era has fulfilled. Well, almost…I still have to wait for my pizza after all.

Hopefully, Polaroid, like Gaga, will continually reinvent themeslves, and they may even find ways to churn out products that can recoup their production costs after only a couple of batches have been sold. Then, it wouldn’t matter too much that the printers are not iPhone compatible so long as they (like Apple), can keep up the coolness factor for just long enough. ‘Cool’ sells more than ‘Practical’ but ‘Cool’ keeps changing and you really must keep up.

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