Shooting With the Stars

Here in the US, at least, we now have two famous folk promoting mirrorless cameras:

Now here's a factoid you probably didn't know about Kutcher: he's won 12 Teen Choice Awards and no Emmy's or Oscars, which would be the main awards available for his primary work. Think that might have something to do with Nikon's continued use of him in Coolpix and consumer camera commercials? Think teens might be a target market for Nikon?

Taylor Swift, meanwhile, has won six Grammys, 11 AMAs, and 7 Country Music Association awards. And yes, she's won multiple Teen Choice Awards, too. Hmm, maybe mirrorless cameras are for teens? 

Both stars are both young, and both are names that show up reasonably high in the Performer Q rankings (third party measurement of consumer appeal). 

So how well do the commercials manage to sell mirrorless cameras? The don't sell "mirrorless" at all. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing*. 

Nikon has once again exploited Kutcher mostly as personality, including the James Bond imitation "stick gadget in pocket" ending. The interchangeable lens aspect shows up towards the end, but this actually begs a point: Nikon seems to be saying "it's a DSLR, but small," but they don't actually explicitly say it. Of course the J1 isn't a DSLR. You'll note that the commercial doesn't show anyone actually shooting with the camera, either, which would be one of the "it isn't a DSLR giveaways."

Contrast the Ashton Kutcher commercial with the International J1 commercial. Wow, actual feature/benefit marketing! I thought that died off with the dinosaurs (even though it usually works if done right). The Kutcher commercial actually has more images of Ashton than the camera, so it's clearly marketing by association. If you want to be just like Ashton, maybe you should own a white J1 and keep it in your jacket pocket.  

The Sony NEX commercial, on the other hand, shows the camera actually being used. Wow, you mean these things actually work? Taylor Swift just happens to be what's being photographed with the camera. Here the suggestion is that a professional photographer uses a NEX to supplement her coverage of Taylor on tour, that the camera is good enough for that. Indeed, that's even mentioned directly, as is the benefit of having WiFi built in (oh it brings joy to me to see feature/benefit marketing in the camera industry again).

I give the nod here to Sony. They directly say that the NEX isn't a DSLR, but rather a small, portable device with unique features (WiFi) that still performs like a DSLR. In other words, you might not need a DSLR. The ad seems to have a purpose, and part of that purpose is to tell you why you might not need that DSLR (which Sony also sells; good job, Sony: never be afraid to sell against yourself). 

Nikon meanwhile is all over the place, trying to tell you that it's a video camera, that it's a still camera, that it can do both together, that it's a Nikon (I guess we're supposed to know what that means), and that it's fast. Fast at what isn't really defined. Here, we don't get any sense of why we'd really want this over another camera other than it's small. Well, if you go into a store, you'll find a lot of small cameras. That can do video. That are fast. Some even are Nikons. So why, again, do I want to buy a J1? Basically, Nikon's ad has a lot of chutzpah in it (the modern slangish definition, not the original Yiddish one). But that's about all it's got. 

Of course, do television ads really sell cameras? Given current Nikon 1 and NEX sales in the US, not so much, no.   

*Why is not selling "mirrorless" bad? Well, camera companies, especially Canon, Nikon, and Sony, have this little problem: why should a customer buy an X over a Y or Z? There's no clear differentiation as to why you'd want a compact, a mirrorless, or a DSLR. Worse, in the case of Olympus with the OM-D and Panasonic with the GH3, they want you to confuse their products with a DSLR. It's as if auto makers were not clear what the difference between a car, truck, SUV, or minivan was. Oh wait, sometimes they aren't. Bottom line is this: if you want to sell some people an X, other people a Y, and still other people a Z, you need to not only clearly differentiate between what X, Y, and Z are and why you need one over the other, but you also need to tell people which things you sell are X's, Y's, and Z's.  


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