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Is There a Case to Be Made for “CPOs”? Kodak Thinks So

By now, you may have heard about Kodak’s ChiefPackagingOfficer, a new online resource for packaging professionals. If you haven’t, its publisher, Joshua Fedeli, wants you to know why the portal is worth your time, attention, and participation.

By Patrick Henry
Published: February 27, 2015

By now, you may have heard about Kodak’s ChiefPackagingOfficer, a new online resource for packaging professionals. If you haven’t, its publisher, Joshua Fedeli, wants you to know why the portal is worth your time, attention, and participation.

Fedeli also is director of sales and accounts for Kodak’s DESIGN2LAUNCH brand asset management system for packaging production. In his role as publisher of ChiefPackagingOfficer, he has two main objectives: to create a community of interest for packaging personnel, and to elevate packaging management to the C-level executive status Kodak believes it deserves.

The intended audience for ChiefPackagingOfficer, says Fedeli, are those responsible for commercializing packaging as a marketing vehicle as well as the people he calls “pack heroes”: the ones who organize and carry out that effort daily across the entire packaging supply chain. The ambition, he says, is to align “the brand community and those who serve it” within a forum where “connecting ideas around innovation with suppliers who can execute” is the guiding principle.

Prime within the community Fedeli wants to build are about 1,000 packaging executives whom Kodak has identified as the industry’s top thought leaders. He intends to engage these VIPs by means of “influencer marketing” outreach directed at them through the social media they use. A “huge effort” will be put forth to make these packaging heavyweights active members of the community, Fedeli says.

Everyone who visits ChiefPackagingOfficer will find a selection of news stories, opinion pieces, and information resources of interest to industry professionals in 14 subject-matter categories. This material, prepared for Kodak by an outside communications firm, is overseen by an editorial content board consisting of Kodak personnel and other packaging experts.

Fedeli says that ChiefPackagingOfficer also wants editorial submissions from everyone who has something relevant to contribute to the discussion about the role of packaging and the routines of those responsible for producing it. Member-generated content he says, will help to make the portal a high-value destination for brand managers who don’t always know where to go for advice and innovative ideas about branded packaging.

The editorial focal point will be advocating more respect and authority for those who make packaging the powerful channel for brand communication that it is. Fedeli says that instead of being the “C-level conversation” it ought to be conducted as, packaging tends to be relegated to “technical and highly tactical” discussions at lower levels of management. This leaves packaging professionals feeling “undervalued and underserved” despite the fact that the packages they produce are of enormous strategic importance to the success of brands.

Another fact, however, is that the portal’s namesake title isn’t actually held by anyone, at least not yet. Fedeli says that Kodak knows of packaging pros at some of the world’s biggest brands who are vice presidents or senior vice presidents reporting directly to CEOs, making them C-level executives in their own right—but not, unfortunately, in the corporate table of organization.

He also notes that at one time, the titles “chief technical officer” and “chief information officer” didn’t exist either until the importance of their functions lifted them to the C-suite—a recognition that Kodak sees as overdue for chief packaging officers. (A white paper, downloadable at the portal, makes the case for the elevation of CPOs in detail.)

Fedeli believes that the ongoing dialog at ChiefPackagingOfficer will help to clarify what a CPO’s purview and prerogatives should be. In broad terms, he says, the CPO’s job is to link the various concepts surrounding the packaging supply chain in a straight line to the brand-owning enterprise, making it easier and faster for packages to forge their all-important connections with consumers at retail. A CPO, according to Fedeli, is the one brands should look to when they need to shrink the gap of months—if not years—that sometimes occurs in the packaging innovation cycle between concept and placement in stores.

Fedeli says CPOs by that title or any other name have their work cut out for them in today’s diversified retail marketplace, which is no longer as “predictable” as it was in the days when consumer packaging mostly meant phalanxes of cartons and boxes on supermarket shelves. Now there are also club stores, big-box stores, and other kinds of outlets, each with its own proliferation of SKUs and its own requirement for environment-specific packaging.

Making packages speak convincingly to consumers in all of these surroundings, but without compromising brand values or sacrificing manufacturing efficiency, “is the remit of the CPO,” says Fedeli. Making ChiefPackagingOfficer a champion of CPOs and their accomplishments is his. Readers of this blog are encouraged to visit the portal and offer him the benefit of their own expertise in packaging.

Patrick Henry, Executive Editor for WhatTheyThink.com is also the director of Liberty or Death Communications, a consultancy specializing in research, education, promotional, and editorial support services for the printing and publishing industries.

Patrick Henry is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us here.

Please offer your feedback to Patrick. He can be reached at patrick.henry@whattheythink.com.

 

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Label & Packaging Editor

Jennifer Matt

Patrick Henry, Section Editor
Pat has covered graphic communications for nearly 30 years as a reporter, an editor, and a commentator.

 

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