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Spectra, World Wide Licenses Revive Polaroid Brand

Though Polaroid the company may no longer exist, Polaroid the brand has been given a new lease on life in the consumer digital camera market. That is thanks to a recent deal with Spectra Merchandising and Hong Kong-based manufacturer World Wide Licenses (WWL) to license the Polaroid brand for a line of eight digital cameras.

While Spectra did not comment on specific product details, a spokesman indicated that the cameras would run from a Web-cam to a 4-megapixel model with introductions hitting store shelves in the fourth quarter.

Polaroid Corp. had played in the low-end of the consumer digital camera market, but Spectra (which serves as the North American sales, marketing and distribution arm of WWL) plans to court a wider swath of consumers with new technology and higher prices. Spectra is also looking to broaden distribution, a spokesman said.

Polaroid, famous for its instant film business, fared well in photo specialty and mass merchant chains when film reigned but proved unable to survive the seismic market shift to digital.

According to the Spectra spokesman, Polaroid had trouble adjusting to the various retail channels, like consumer electronics, where its brand strength and product offering was not as strong when digital camera sales took off.

“Even photo specialty, where Polaroid was strong, can’t sell — or doesn’t want to sell — the $199 cameras that Polaroid was offering,” he said.

But the Polaroid brand is still widely recognized among consumers, and Spectra hopes to leverage the brand’s strength with its new introductions, said the spokesman.

So far, dealers who have seen the lineup have been impressed with the direction Spectra has taken, the spokesman said.

The Spectra/World Wide Licenses deal comes on the heals of Polaroid’s wholesale sell off of all its assets to the bank Equity One and was unaffected by the sale.