Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Fujifilm Works on a New Image

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Fujifilm Works on a New Image

Article excerpt

As the popularity of film among consumers has plummeted, Fujifilm is looking to shift, and sharpen, its brand in the marketplace.

Fujifilm, seeking to recast its film-centered identity, is starting a brand campaign featuring medical imaging and other technological innovations that stem from its long history of research on chemical coatings.

The Japanese company's North American operations are not abandoning digital cameras and commercial printing equipment. But as the popularity of film among consumers has plummeted because of digital imaging's higher convenience and lower cost, Fujifilm is looking to shift, and sharpen, its brand in the marketplace.

It is unveiling its new campaign, with the tagline, "Just when you thought you knew us," this week. The campaign by its North American subsidiary will first feature one of its diagnostic imaging technologies, then will highlight its little-known products and services, like data storage cartridges, semiconductor advances and biomedical development manufacturing.

"Most consumers know us for our film and digital cameras. The word 'film' in our name underscored one business," said Joan Rutherford, vice president for corporate communications at Fujifilm Holdings America in Valhalla, New York.

"These days, all of us, to a person, are being asked: 'So, what does the company do, now that film is dead?"'

Fujifilm, which has been operating in the United States since 1965, has been positioning itself to answer that question for the better part of a decade, expanding its scientific research to diagnostic imaging and areas like coatings for liquid crystal display screens that widen the viewing angle.

It has faced plummeting sales for photography products, which, according to the latest company figures, contribute 15 percent of Fujifilm's overall revenue, compared with 50 percent in 1990. Its film was the film of choice in Japan, but it never edged out Eastman Kodak among American amateur photographers.

While Kodak's unspooling was being closely chronicled, Fujifilm's parent company, Fujifilm Holdings, was jettisoning some of its film- related infrastructure and acquiring companies to expand into areas in which it could apply its chemical coating and other technologies.

Fujifilm's operations in North America are made up of 10 subsidiary companies, which include, in addition to photography- related products, motion picture film, graphic products, optical lenses and maritime coatings. It employs about 4,900 people in 29 American states and has a separate digital camera advertising campaign to market higher-end cameras.

"We were in a bit of a quandary, in the United States in particular, since our brand was tied to our film heritage," Ms. Rutherford said. "We had to close the gap and figure out how to reposition ourselves as a broader, more diverse company. …

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