LAST DANCE?Kodak to
end Hula Show
The company is helpingBy Rob Perez
look for a replacement
Eastman Kodak Co. today said it was pulling out as sponsor of the Kodak Hula Show, an island tradition for more than 60 years.
Citing economic and marketing reasons, company spokesman Jim Blamphin said Kodak will end its role as title sponsor June 30 and is trying to find a replacement so the show will continue.
"We feel a considerable obligation to make the transition work," Blamphin said.
The Kodak Hula Show, which features hula dancers and other entertainers three mornings a week on the Waikiki Shell grounds, has attracted millions of visitors to the free event since it was founded in 1937.
Rochester, N.Y.-based Kodak has said it spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to sponsor the show.
Blamphin said Kodak recently re-evaluated its numerous sponsorships worldwide and decided to discontinue some.
"We're restructuring the whole way we approach our marketing promotions around the world ... This one just didn't fit into the strategy now," he said of the hula show.
Kodak in February hired a Toronto company, Architectus, to develop a marketing package that is being used to try to find a new sponsor for the hula show. Architectus, in turn, has hired New York-based MarComm Partners, which specializes in selling sponsorships, to help with the search, according to Jerry Wallner, director of corporate partnerships for Kodak.
Wallner said Kodak has never gone to such measures to find a replacement sponsor. He said he was hopeful a new one would be found, but no commitments have been obtained yet.
City Councilwoman Rene Mansho said Kodak has expressed an interest in her idea of bringing the show to Honolulu's waterfront to help with greetings for arriving cruise ships.
Mansho said she has asked Aloha Tower Marketplace to help sponsor a scaled-down version of the show, which would complement the hula, music and lei greetings ships receive now as part of the Boat Days celebrations.
"Everybody thinks it's a good idea," Mansho said. "The question now is the cost."
Under Mansho's scenario, Kodak would remain a sponsor, though with a much smaller financial commitment, so the name of the show can be preserved, continuing six decades of tradition, she said.
Kodak has been the main sponsor since a local Kodak executive organized the first show in March 1937. As recently as 1997, Kodak had said it had no plans to discontinue the sponsorship despite the cost.
But in recent years, Kodak has been driven to slash expenses and lay off workers as it faced increased competition in the photography business.
As part of its re-evaluation of sponsorships, Kodak looked at the considerable expense of sponsoring live performances three times weekly at Kapiolani Park. Company officials would not say precisely how much that cost.
Kodak also determined the show didn't fit with the company's emphasis on promotions that target families with young children, the primary picture takers of today, Kodak officials said.
For similar reasons, Kodak discontinued its sponsorships of, among other things, National Football League and Professional Golfers Association events.
The Kodak Hula Show was considered the brainchild of Fritz Herman, a Kodak Hawaii executive in the 1930s. He started the show because visitors had no chance to take pictures of hula dancers in daylight, given that hula shows typically were at night. Film speeds back then weren't fast enough for night shooting without using flashbulbs, which nightclub owners usually didn't permit.