A splashy marketing stumble makes me question Canon's sanity. Again.

Canon's ad agency bought a time machine and 
made a website from the 1980's. 

After a week of build up and a double truck ad in the New York Times all of the hoopla from Canon was for the introduction of a badly designed "interactive" website that tried to tell too many (poorly crafted) stories to too many disparate audiences. You can go and see it for yourself: http://seeimpossible.usa.canon.com

But be forewarned that the site took over a minute to load on my broadband connection.

And this on the heels of a lavishly produced but sparsely attended show here in Austin from their consumer printer division in which they showed maybe 100 framed and matted prints to an invited audience of maybe 35 people at the Austin Music Hall. They seemed desperate to fill the space even with complimentary alcohol and nice catering.

While I will make no judgement on the content or style of the images shown it was sad to hear that Canon printed all of the files themselves because the actual printing was the weak part of the show. That, and the fact that all the prints were printed in the same palette at the same exact size and format.

Homogenous. Flat. All printed on the same Lustre paper.  If these two incidents are examples of their advertising agency's best work it's high time they shopped around... maybe find some college kids in an apartment who haven't lost all of their mojo and still have some enthusiasm for stuff that's new and different.

I'm sure someone will suggest that I don't like Canon cameras and that's not the point here. The point is that maybe part of the problem in camera sales is that the damn ad agencies handling the accounts don't have a clue how to talk to photographers. That's a big hurdle. And I'm not just singling out Canon. At this point, if I was on the Canon internal marketing team, I'd just bag the traditional ad agencies and start crowdsourcing the creative. It couldn't be worse and it would be a hell of a lot cheaper.....


typingtalker said...

Where I'm sitting, the page took less than five seconds (using a clock sweep second hand to measure) to load during which a subset of the the text you featured was displayed -- too brief to read.

But then I was presented with a number of scenarios, most using nice brief story-style videos, introducing Canon technologies.

Overall, a nice piece of marketing with some rough UI edges.

Perhaps you were victim of some technological gremlins. Or maybe the site was broken and is now fixed.

Michael Matthews said...

I tried the "see impossible" link.

They're right. It's impossible -- stalling out at 49% of the download with just an animated box repeatedly flipping its sides and top.

And that's with a broadband connection testing out just north of 20 mb/s.

How much do you think they paid for this?

Kirk Tuck said...

typingtalker, you must have seen a much different site than I did. I thought the graphics were just awful and the videos, while well produced, cloying and dated.

I've gone back and looked again. I won't be apologizing for this comment...

Mr said...

i woke up and RUSHED to my ipad to check what the announcement was... 5 seconds later i was rolling my eyes and thinking "............canon............."

Mr said...

oh, also, the site took about 30 secs for me to load, so its gotten better! yay canon??? lol. it did feel dated, and slow to respond. it must be HIGH DEMAND! ;)

Erik said...

It looks to me like Canon's death knell is sounding. How quickly can they divest themselves of their customer base?

Anonymous said...

Thought I'd comment while waiting for the Little Red Box on that site to...Oh, there it is...no, wait, not quite, shows 100% but still no site...meanwhile, is it possible they meant "Canon Seems Impossible?"

Anonymous said...

See impossible? Gee, how creative. Isn't this slogan really just a ripoff/rewording of the old Apple-Think different?

I see management grabbing at straws.

As a marketing effort--considering the expense involved and the world-wide scope of the company--this is pathetic. It's really moot whether the site loads fast or slow or you find the graphics appealing or not. The concept is outdated and lame. It may have appeal to the members of the Board of Directors and perhaps to the families and friends of those whose "stories" are featured but it's not going to sell enough new Canon stuff to come anywhere close to justifying what was spent to role it out. If you want to see this concept done well look at this Fuji effort [http://fujifilm-x.com/photographers/en/#main].

And then they screw up the launch? (I don't think you mentioned that after the countdown timer got to zero and people were waiting for the big "whatever" that nothing happened and site just sat at 00:00:00 seconds left to go for hours.) The launch screwup has led to world-wide ridicule of Canon on the blogs and forums.

If I were a Canon employee I'd be so embarrassed.

Yet, in the boardroom they are probably getting reports about all the visits and Twitter traffic and whatnot and patting themselves on the back with gusto and mumbling, "Great metrics!." But with no awareness of WHAT people are Twittering about Canon or posting to blogs and forums about their disappointing visit to the web site. And what's being posted is hugely negative about Canon.

This is not good marketing. This is the early death rattle of a once great company.

Note: I own and am happy with an EOS-M system and a G1X Mk2 with viewfinder. I do all my printing up to A3+ with a Canon Pro 1 from all my cameras. I'm not a Canon basher by nature. But I cannot ignore that this is the start of a wake.

Wally said...

Nikon did the next big thing teaser campaign many years ago and it had the same results.... Crickets. It shows that nikon and canon management, lower case on purpose, are truly stupid. Buy Olympus, Sony, Panasonic, or Fuji!

ODL Designs said...

Ouch. You know, never mind the flash style website build, never mind that odd box they have included next to their logo... my biggest issue was that instead of telling peoples stories, real stories, they made mini fiction movies. The woman smashing her cups at home after her book isnt published... talk about melodrama!!

Anonymous said...

I found it loaded no problem, but was otherwise unremarkable

Mark Davidson said...

While the site loaded with reasonable dispatch for me, the destination was hardly worth it.
I am astonished that such a global effort was made to present the briefest of blurbs about the company and its products.
The only thing this campaign has done is to go viral but I hardly think this is the viral they had in mind.

Anonymous said...

Being so close to photokina I would have been really suprised if they had showed something really remarkable.

Totally agree though that this was very anti-climax. The amount of marketing could have gone into bringing a new mirrorless or even the rumoured medium-format camera to the market, but no..

Joseph Ferrari said...

1,300 comments on dpreview! I didn't read many, but the ones I did were hyper critical of Canon--and deservedly so.

The Japanese are running out of fuel!

Bill Bresler said...

I don't mean to hijack the post but I'm frustrated in general with Canon marketing. I teach a photo class at a small local university. We have used a somewhat elderly Epson R2400 for prints. It always worked well and made good-looking prints, especially B&W. Last term Canon gifted the school with 3 of their printers. The one that I'm obliged to use makes bad prints and has several defects right out of the box. Worse, the school won't buy ink for the old Epson. Tonight the class topic is making prints. Not sure what the heck to do, except maybe upload student files to the local Costco, which makes admirable prints, cheap. Rant over.

Patrick Cote said...

This site reminded me of the heyday of Flash-based marketing sites. Takes me back 10-14 years to when the web was a mess. Thanks Canon. Your marketing and web team managed to successfully avoid all the great advances in web site design and development made in the last six years.

David Mantripp said...

Oh wow:

"This site is best experienced with WebGL enabled"

or indeed "Best Viewed in Internet Explorer 4" ?

gosh, I feel 10 years younger.

theaterculture said...

I have worked on a number of online projects that are funded and run by University professors in their 50s and 60s. They have boundless faith in "interactivity" but little-to-no idea what that might mean, beyond animated graphics doing things with pizzazz (never mind the fact that static graphics would be clearer in the same place...). By the time they're done telling you everything they want in a web-site and you build it for them, it's a cludgy dog's breakfast that even they don't like.

This campaign reminds me of doing that work...

Kirk Tuck said...

To add to TheaterCulutre's point, the site reminded me very much of the excesses of bad PowerPoint presentations. A case of throwing in every feature they could find, just because it was there.

jason gold said...

The site loaded easily.
Why must it download UNLESS it's looking at you, the viewer..
When you see what is there, well
it's really sad.Pathetic.
i used to wonder how come Leica, such a small company compared to CanoNikon, is so highly regarded?
The fact of matter is all the photographs done and shown by Leica photographers.Their philosophy and actual results are vast,compared to CanoNikon.
Their site is more about "latest" equipment.The name "Impossible" made me think Polaroid. wow!
A sheer waste of time and effort.