The gear is great, the prices are good, the quality is excellent – but… can a company be cool enough to influence a generation to buy their products?
Design is cool. Marketing and PR isn’t. Websites are cool. Salesmen aren’t. Niche is cool. Mass production isn’t.
How do companies connect with a generation and get them to part with their cash? There’s no short hit sadly. Its persistence, investment, quality, ‘listening’ & longevity… and very few of those things can be achieved with a marketing budget alone.
I’ve worked alongside marketing departments. I’m a designer, I create ‘cool’, then present it. Marketeers/salesmen are a different breed to designers. They generally don’t see eye to eye. Salesmen need the hooks, the selling points the bright lights and specs, the checklist of hits, stats and figures. The pitch, plan and strategy to reach the ‘client base’, hit those targets, are commission driven and performance led.
Nike bought themselves into skateboarding. They tried it once, and failed big time. The skaters thought ‘who the hell do they think they are’ and collectively shunned the whole damn investment, the slice of the extreme sport market that one of the biggest companies in the world wanted.
Why? because everyone knew that they wanted money, money only, because what skaters were doing at the time was cool. ‘fuck them’ we thought. so we fucked them, and Nike 1.0 in the world of skateboarding died.
About a decade later, Nike tried again. This time they did their homework, learnt from their mistakes and invested. In the sport, the product, the parks, the competitions, the kids everything. They stuck around, did things once and well and now they’re accepted. We accepted them. They did good. We weren’t taken for a ride, we rode them… and are still riding with them. Nike 2.0 lives.
Enter the Free running world and boy, doesn’t it look ripe for the picking? Take one, largely disorganised, ruleless, youth driven, popular activity… a big fat marketing budget… get some cool kids onboard with your products and what have you got?
A hit surely?…. uhh riiiight.
Enter Canon. Or specifically an email from Will @ Canon to me. They’re marketing their products towards crazy things you can do with a camera. They’ve hooked up with some french runners and got this edit up on youtube.
What do I think? Care to mention it on the blog? (reading between the lines here)
I check it out. Whilst its loading. I see 200+ hits and 2 comments. This means, someones been working their arse off to get it infront of a few faces, but no-one thinks much of it to comment.
I watch the video anyway. I become ‘hit’ number 203. The video is part advert part docu-advert. Look, its a fucking advert basically. Its trying to sell me shit. Either way I watch to the end. Why? Cause I like the stuff. The gear I mean, its Canon after all isn’t it. And whats more I wanna compare their efforts to break into something with the big boys like Nike and DC and Redbull etc. Can they cut it?
Not by the look of the videos’ stats.
As I web developer, I study stats for a living… and I’ve come to the conclusion that stats aren’t a representation of popularity, they’re one of credibility. Stick a banana infront of a monkey and he’ll eat it. Stick a banana painted monkey infront of a monkey and he’ll try to hump it. No matter who your target audience is, if the pitch ain’t right, it won’t work.
At the end of the video there’s a url. Gotta check it out haven’t I?
I type www.canon-europe.com/freecording. The url dies for me. I retype it. It dies again. ‘knobs’ I think, ‘they’ve got the url wrong’. I google ‘freecording’ and find the site. The url works. I type the same url again in another browser it dies, then it works! Now I know they have an issue with their DNS propagating or something. Ergh… -10 points so far Canon!
Anyways, the site is nothing, and I mean nothing to do with free running. They just produced a video. Well done. The stats were correct. 200+ hits, and 2 comments. People aren’t dumb, they know when they’re about to be taken for a ride, they know when their being sold-out by a big corporation that just wants to cash in on their pastimes popularity. Credibility zero.
But I don’t care. Its Canon isn’t it. They make good shit. I already knew that, every video on my Youtube account is with a Canon, because 2 years ago when I wanted a camera to film with I checked out everything in my price range and bought a Canon. Its fantastic. I didn’t need a marketing campaign/budget/website to tell me the product is good. I already know it. We already know it. We aren’t the idiots that we need to be sold to. We’re already buying and using it all. We love it.
So imo, this isn’t anything new, this is very old hat indeed. This is Canon 1.0, just like Nike tried all those years ago.
I hope I get to see Canon 2.0 before my knees pack up and I can’t do it anymore.
So Will @ Canon, there you go.. there’s my words. my verdict, my 2’pennuth for all its worth.
Have I shot myself in the foot for possible future freebies with one of the biggest companies in the world because I’m not kissing their ass over their PR stunt? Probably? but most likely not. Because in the world of PR and marketing, there’s no such thing as bad news, its all promotion, its all popularity and in the case of the online world where conversation is king – its all good…
…and its all Canon, and that’s alright in my book. Just ease off the cheese please.
Hugs – Mark 3.0