Patriotic marketing in photography history

I am sure you loved the cigarette spy camera from my previous post, and many of you now want to find or buy it for your collection. If it turns out to be unavailable, here’s another idea. In 1888, this hand-held camera was introduced by a guy from Geneva, who used advantages of the flexible film developed by George Eastman for Kodak.


It is a dream item for collectors too, especially those with alcoholic tendencies: I am sure you’ve noticed it is ideal for hiding a bottle. If no such need arises, it can be resold in another fifty years at a profit.

This camera is valuable because it didn’t live long: Kodak was fast to reformat the world of photography with its compact offer.

IMG_0774 - копия


Unlike Ford who insisted on staying black, Kodak also offered cameras that were pink (for ladies) and green (for boy scouts):


This is the right spot to stop and wonder how much the world has changed in a hundred years! I mean, no producer cares a bit about boy scouts anymore. It’s all about the empowerment of women with a zillion shades of pink and gold.

If you don’t think that offering a wider range of pink is about female empowerment, I know two things about you. First, you are not in marketing. Second, you have been had by people who are in marketing. For instance, think of the Dove brand that claims to empower women by promoting real natural beauty, but introduces pink bottles to accelerate sales. They know that at the end of the day, when the dust of facebook fights around women’s issues settles down, pink still sells like hell.

I am not saying this to start a discussion, but merely to softly land on the planet of marketing,   exclusively inhabited by beautiful people and A-list celebrities who can never tell a truth that wouldn’t be a lie at the same time.

This is a Kodak ad from the Great War. I urge you to read it (it’s clickable). Selling cameras to people who most likely will be dead before they can start using the product under the pretext of fighting trench boredom is very clever, but a tad cynical, don’t you think? Or is it just me?


Monotony and not bullets, you say? Taking photos in the trenches, while being gassed by the Germans? Really? But I admit, it reads nice and quite convincing.

PS All this wonderful stuff comes from Vevey Museum of Photography. If you are a Nestle employee, make sure you get there (Nestle is headquartered in Vevey). If you are not a Nestle employee and don’t live nearby, I can’t imagine what accident can bring you over to this beautiful spot in Switzerland, except, perhaps, the two first weeks of July when Montreux, a neighbour town, hosts a jazz festival.



  1. Seriously the ad is a bit too much even if it does sound convincing in print. They’re practically saying ‘Yes, you might die. But you will die content, knowing that you’ve a genuine Kodak picture taken from a genuine Kodak camera, near your heart’. I mean it’s ridiculous.

  2. Oh, that Kodak ad is hard to stomach! (And don’t forget that the house that Le Corbusier designed and built for his parents is just along the shore from the photography museum….and open to the public – Villa Le Lac, or the Temple by the Lake, as he liked to call it.)

  3. The cameras are a hard sell now. everything has to be compact and powerful. Lovely place, Montreux. I spent a summer there many years ago.

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