The digital imaging revolution has had its second major impact on the portfolio of a company that has historically been one of the world’s largest sponsors.

Having already switched its activation efforts from promoting film sales to educating consumers about digital photography, Eastman Kodak Co. is making an even more significant move. The 12th-largest U.S.-based sponsor, according to IEG SR’s annual rankings, is dropping many of its consumer-oriented ties in favor of deals with high tech industry events.

The change in strategy reflects the company’s move from a predominant purveyor of film and photo products–whose yellow boxes and signage were once nearly ubiquitous at global, national and local events–to a firm trying to establish a foothold among many competitors in the digital technology arena.

Revenue from digital imaging products and services represented 54 percent of Kodak’s total revenue in ’05, the first time in the company’s history that digital revenue exceeded revenue generated from film-based products.

“Without question, our transformation from the traditional photography business model to the digital products and services model has had a significant impact on our sponsorship strategy,” said Greg Walker, Kodak’s director and vice president, brand and market development.

“We are taking a close look at all of our existing partnerships, recognizing that many of our relationships were developed during our legacy film days. Their relevance to the digital world needs to be reassessed.”

What’s Out And What’s In For Kodak
Over the last year or so, Kodak has dropped some of its higher-profile deals, including title of a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series team and cosponsorships of Universal Studios, National Park Service, American Ski Co. and the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid, N.Y.

In their place are partnerships with The Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif. and Richard Saul Wurman’s EG: The Entertainment Gathering confab in Los Angeles. Kodak plans to sign additional deals with similar types of technology and entertainment-oriented thought-leader events, according to Walker.

“There are a number of additional technology-oriented properties that we want to engage. There is more to come,” he said.

The B2B events help position Kodak as a major player in the digital space and provide networking opportunities that can lead to strategic alliances with mobile phone manufacturers and other types of companies using digital imaging technology, Walker said.

“The nature of our evolving business requires us to be in environments where these types of companies are represented,” he added.

While Kodak is emphasizing technology events, it is not abandoning consumer-oriented properties, said Walker, noting that the company may even return as a Nextel Cup team titler in ’07. The company cosponsors a team this year.

Kodak continues to leverage its remaining consumer-focused sponsorships to demonstrate its digital offerings. For example, in Turin around the Olympic Winter Games in February, TOP sponsor Kodak set up multiple Picture Kiosk G4 units that enabled consumers to print their digital photos.

The company also took photographs for security badges using Easyshare digital cameras, as well as provided a digital photo center for journalists and medical imaging for local clinics.

Other New Deals Target Multicultural Markets
Kodak has stepped up sponsorships aimed at specific consumer groups that are part of its multicultural marketing efforts. That initiative attempts to increase business from “people of color, seniors, people with disabilities, and those of varied sexual orientation and ethnic backgrounds,” according to a company statement.

Kodak has signed new deals with the Film Life & HBO American Black Film Festival and Latina Magazine’s five-city Nation Tour. Kodak also sponsors NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, a tie that affords title of a car in the Dodge Weekly Series.

On the B2B front, Kodak sponsors the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference to highlight its high-speed document scanners and other office products and services to small and medium-size business owners.

The company also will sponsor September’s Out & Equal Workplace Summit, which promotes equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, said Walker, who also serves as Kodak’s director and vice president of multicultural marketing.