Debut author Albright, who spent more than 20 years in Kodak’s public relations department, chronicles the heyday of the Kodak Sports Promotion Program via press releases.
Soon after joining the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, in the early 1970s, Albright became a writer for its Sports Promotion Program, recording the heights of the company’s athletic sponsorship in the following decade. He collects his press releases here to provide a picture of Old Mother Yellow Box’s once-massive commitment to sports promotion, highlighting its Olympic sponsorship, its various All-American teams in women’s and men’s sports, and numerous honors, including the lauded Eastman Award. The collection includes appearances from a plethora of noteworthy personalities in sports ranging from basketball to golf to NASCAR to sumo wrestling. They include Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry, race car driver Mario Andretti, and basketball legends-to-be Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing. The articles feature black-and-white illustrations and, of course, photographs, including one of track-and-field superstar Mary Decker posing with the Kodak Disc. Kodak allowed Albright great leeway, so he injected each article, memo, and travel report with a wry, self-deprecating humor. He writes in a professional but playful style in the press releases as well as in the prologues and epilogues that bookend them. These additions offer context to the story of the growth of the company along with hints at its decline. Albright’s approach in this memoir is unique, but its focus isn’t entirely clear, as there’s not enough information here to illustrate the Sports Promotion Program’s place in the history of Kodak itself. However, readers will glean much about Kodak’s promotional practices, particularly in an in-depth profile of the company’s use of “ambush marketing” during the 1984 Olympics: the company flooded the event with advertisements, including hundreds of commercials, to balance the fact that they lost sponsorship of the event to Fuji Film for the first time that year.
A good-humored snapshot of one aspect of the Eastman Kodak Company, sure to charm sports enthusiasts and ’80s nostalgia buffs.