Polaroid Takes Mio to the Net

Leo Burnett this week launches a low-budget, Internet-focused campaign in an effort to create a street buzz for Polaroid’s newest camera.

Currently in Chap ter 11 bankruptcy, the Cambridge, Mass., cli ent did not allocate a large ad budget for the launch of the Mio, which takes wallet-sized photo graphs. That helped lead the Chi cago agency to its strategy.

“We knew it had to be a little subversive, because it wasn’t going to get a lot of [budget] support,” said Jonathan Hoffman, evp, executive creative director at Burnett. “We thought we could build some mystique about this thing.”

The campaign centers on an online film, which is being hyped via classified ads in alternative news weeklies. The nearly four-minute Inter net movie depicts a man who uses a Mio to document a strange night during which he is haunted by two characters in Ka buki makeup. The next morning, he pieces his dream together with his photos, which lack the Ka buki characters.

One classified ad reads, “Exorcist needed: Will pay top dollar to rid house of two spirits. Please help end my torture. Being subjected to haunting of a Kabuki nature. If you can help, contact me at www. miomovie.com.”

In addition to classified ads, the film’s Web site is being touted by film-section ads in alternative newsweeklies in 11 markets.

Randall Smith, Polaroid’s director of advertising, said the approach is the best way to reach the “trendy, uninvolved” target of well-educated, well-off men aged 25-40. “We felt there was a real opportunity to do something a little bit interesting and different,” he said.

Polaroid filed for Chapter 11 protection in mid-Oct ober. It spent $45 million on U.S. advertising last year, according to CMR, but that budget is expected to be cut as the company works through its financial troubles. Spending on the new effort is undisclosed.

Smith said the approach was not budget-driven, though he acknowledged it was fiscally attractive. “It’s not a mainstream approach, which has a higher price tag,” he said.