Matthew Miller
May 19, 2015

Nikon Asia unleashes 'phodographer'

ASIA-PACIFIC - Nikon Asia worked with J. Walter Thompson Singapore to produce an online film showcasing a canine with a camera. But does the doggy deliver the right message?

Client: Nikon Asia

Agency: J. Walter Thompson Singapore

Market: Asia

Name of campaign: 'Heartography'

Campaign scope: Online film, distributed via social media, website.

Gimmick: A border collie named Grizzler wears a camera that's triggered when his heartrate rises. The work is meant to underscore "the company’s brand ethos, 'At the heart of the image', and its position as a pioneer of photographic innovation."

Press release quote:

Valerie Cheng, chief creative officer, J. Walter Thompson Singapore:

We take photos of people, scenes and situations that speak to our hearts. But our thoughts can often cloud what we feel. We thought, ‘What if emotion could trigger a camera to take a photograph?’ That would be a truly pure form of photography.”  

Campaign Asia Pacific's comments: Grizzler is by no means the first dog to be given a camera. For example, 16.2 million people have enjoyed Walter's dash to the sea, and doodads for attaching cameras to dogs are readily available. The no-fun, scientifically minded skeptic in us also can't help pointing out that heartrate is a poor indicator of emotion; the camera is most likely to trigger when the dog is running, not when it's feeling the feels.

Those grumps aside, the dog is cute, the voiceover is hard to resist and we'll even admit to smiling at the egregious pun at the end ('phodographer').

In terms of marketing, it's nice to see something light and fun from Nikon. The company spends a lot on its 'I am" campaign for the higher end of the market, so this emotional appeal is a good change of pace, and might work wonders for the point-and-shoot Coolpix range if carried forward. We hope it's not a one-off thing.

On a broader level, we sometimes wonder whether brands worry, when they approve cute, expressive demos like this, whether the message will hit the mark. The harness-monitor-camera setup is not a product, but it's easy to see people interpreting the video that way and clamoring to buy it. What if the message about being 'At the heart of the image' gets lost, and all you end up creating is disappointment?  


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