Chapter 13: Advertising and Marketing

In spite of limited resources when it comes to advertising and marketing, the demand for the LOMO LC-A continued to enjoy steady growth with snap-happy ‘Komsomolets’ making the effort to purchase the
“fantastic plastic camera” from supermarkets and commission shops. Thanks to word of mouth, the seemingly uninspiring packaging of the LOMO LC-A didn’t negatively affect the sales of this soon-to-be-iconic product.

Unlike nowadays, where it is practically the largest part of the production budget, promotion was unimaginable back in the good old days of the Soviet Union. Advertising for the LOMO LC-A didn’t exist and at this time LOMO PLC didn’t even have a public relations department let alone a marketing department. What was the point? The party headquarters in Moscow allocated the orders and set the prices, the factory merely had to attend to the production. Photo-interested ‘Komsomolets’ (Young Communists) were able to find the LOMO LC-A either in commission shops or supermarkets, where the unimpressive packaging of the camera didn’t cause much of a sensation. Firmly placed in a plastic box, equipped with a small instruction manual, packed in white wrapping paper and entwined with a thin black cord the LOMO LC-A could almost have been mistaken for a bag of flour. Nonetheless there was a great demand for the small compact camera, as in reality there were no other comparable units on the Soviet market. In addition, the LOMO LC-A was quite fantastic and word spread quickly. For the most part camera film in the then Soviet Union was anything but colourful. The film which was widely available for amateurs was the East German “Orwo”. The name stood for “Original Wolfen” and was produced in Wolfen in the former GDR. In the 1980s the factory lost its monopoly in film production in East Germany. Thus, for decades colour films were produced using techniques from the 1930s and this format was very difficult to develop in western laboratories – which particularly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 didn’t prove advantageous.

In the former Soviet Union on the other hand Orwo was the most popular (and cheapest) film and had to be developed using a two stage process in the bathroom at home as were most other 35mm films that were available at the time. It produced a black and white picture. However, this didn’t matter as for a long time the developing of colour film in the Soviet Union (and the preparation of prints in laboratories) was not available to amateurs at all. Not only did the Soviet photographers of that time have to have some know-how on the development of their films but they were also not able to capture the colourful activity of their beautiful union with all its colours!

The LOMO LC-A was not only used by amateur and hobby photographers. LOMO PLC provided some journalists with the small camera to practice with, some of whom were very excited about the handy size and the automatic exposure function of the device (which was ideal for extremely secret spy operations, which the Russians always had a soft spot for). So it came to pass that by some means or other the LOMO LC-A photographs were included in the ITAR-TASS (Information Telegraph Agency of Russia) catalogue of the national Russian news agency and graced many articles in Pravda, the stringently controlled communist information newspaper.

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written by ungrumpy on 2011-01-12 #history #library #lomography #excerpts #lomo-lc-a-big-book

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