27 Nov 2014

Canon targets young creators with new films

Canon has turned its hand to branded entertainment with a series of films and a partnership with Canadian content platform The Creators Class
Canon Canada has partnered with content studio Free, to create a number of film series for the content platform The Creators Class. 
The Creators Class, is a content platform targeting 18-34-year-olds with film and video content around the topics of music, style, adventure, art and culture. 
The content is created “by creators, for creators” and aims to provide young creative people with a platform to display their work and promote their talents. 
As launch sponsor of The Creators Class, Canon has developed three series: 
- A New Breed: a five-part documentary series on directors, 
- Originals: a series profiling artists which is presented by Canon, 
- Shoot-It-Yourself: a series providing how-to guides for Canon products demonstrated by leading Instagram artists.
As part of Canon’s partnership, the brand will host experiential activations and events and will have the opportunity to get its products into the hands of the artists and creators.  
Canon will also run The Canon CreatorLab, an online and offline space that will help creative types to develop their photography and videography skills.
The Creators Class is accessible online and via YouTube and Instagram. 
Justin Lam, VP and GM of the Imaging Technologies & Communications Group for Canon Canada told Fast Company: "This partnership makes sense for Canon because our products already play a role in the creator movement. When you put the right products in the hands of talented creators the results can be spectacular. With our studio partnership more creators will have access to Canon gear and guidance that can help raise their profile and enhance their story. It’s exciting to think the content produced for this channel can help inspire budding creators."
Canon Canada is the latest in a long list of brands looking to engage a young millennial audience by empowering their creativity. 
Canon hopes partnering with the content platform will give the brand kudos with the creative community and help get its products into the hands of these up and coming talent. 
It’s a solid strategy and one that will give the brand access to the best emerging talent and ensure the brand has a part to play in their success. This is important for the brand’s future growth. 
Canon has continued to ride the wave of the photography boom and its DSLR products are popular with older audiences. However Canon is looking to connect with the youth audience, which is more focused on smart phones. 
Canon Canada’s senior manager of marketing and planning for the imaging technology communications group Brett Gaskell told Strategy Online that the brand is trying to “be a partner of the creator movement” 
Gaskell said that there was a huge opportunity to grow Canon’s business if they could introduce millennials into the mix. To reach this audience the brand has abandoned paid media to focus on getting its products into the hands of creators. 
This shift in strategy has seen the brand partnering with MTV and bloggers as well as using its budget to create Canon content to engage the audience.  
It’s certainly a nice strategy and working in a smaller targeted community like the photography and videography community helps to ensure this hits the target market and creates genuine engagement. 
I’m surprised Canon didn’t decide to do this on their own, however I suspect partnering with a content studio was a deliberate move to lend a sense of authenticity to the project. 
As a strategy it is in no way original or new. It’s clearly inspired by Intel and Vice’s The Creators Project, but while that project is more technology based, this one focus on photography and video artists. 
For a brand like Canon, which has to work hard to introduce its brand to a young audience obsessed with smart phones, narrowing down to target photo and video artists makes a lot of sense. 
This project enables Canon to celebrate the craft of photography and the artists who are passionate about it. It helps connect the brand with the creation of this art, beyond being the device or product that enables the art, Canon is also putting it’s brand front and center to help develop artists and provide a platform for promotion. 
The Originals series is a really nice branded documentary series, which provides a positive association between young emerging creative and the Canon brand. 
I like the idea of the Shoot It Yourself series, however the execution is heavy handed, and the content is too product demonstration and not enough inspiration. However, this will definitely connect and resonate with young millennials who expect to find this content online and do not necessarily view I negatively.  
For Canon this is a smart strategy that puts the brand up close and personal with creators and helps inspire a generation to engage with the brand. By putting its products into their hands, Canon is helping to fuel a generation that is obsessed with creating. 
As Lam said: "What is appealing about the subject matter and the artists is that they are all creators in the truest sense: self-made, self-taught, pursuing their passions and making their mark. These millennials are shaping their areas of passion–-whether it is arts, music or travelling–-through highly stylized photography and video on their social feed. Their stories are entertaining, inspiring and powerful."
This is a savvy partnership for Canon, and what the brand loses in originality it more than makes up for in showing an intimate understanding of the target market. 
While not the first to do this, Canon’s efforts are authentic and sure to resonate with the target audience. A solid effort. 3 stars. 



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