The changing ambassador landscape – Inside Imaging
July 7, 2021
Canon Australia has its Ambassador program with three new photographers ending the decade-long Canon Masters program.
The new Canon ambassadors are Perth photographer Jarrad Seng, who became half-famous in 2013 through a viral prank posing as US DJ Steve Aoki and who appeared on a reality TV show. Australian survivor; freelance cinematographer Kate Cornish; and award-winning wedding photographer James Simmons.
There was no official announcement regarding the termination of the Canon Masters program; at some point the microsite was quietly scrubbed. It may have ended or even expired a year ago during Canon’s program reduction. Separately, there is now a fresh, albeit much smaller, ambassador program in its place.
The end of Canon Masters, which was founded in 2010 as EOS Masters, follows on from a broader industry change – a changing of the guard from experts to influencers.
Brands prefer social media types whose job it is to use carefully researched hash tags to attract enthusiasm for the equipment they are likely to have received in payment. As you coexist with “traditional” brand ambassadors, times change.
But after that Photo review Australia Annual reader survey even goes back to the poor influence of the ambassadors on the purchase of photo enthusiasts. In 2021, only 10 percent of Photo Review readers – mostly enthusiastic equipment buyers – found brand ambassadors to be an important source of information for buying advice. This was a decrease of 15 percent in 2017. Likewise, only seven percent trust social media for purchase advice. Ambassadors were the third most reliable source of information in both surveys. while expert reviews and magazines are most trusted.
The photography companies’ marketing programs seem so fixated on influencers that some decision makers are giving them priority over peer-reviewed editorials: “Whatever, what [review product] generally goes to KOLs (‘Key Opinion Leaders’) and influencers on request, in return for video samples and digital content that have been tremendously attractive to us, “said a senior marketing communications manager Indoor shots recently. “That doesn’t mean that online editorial offices and magazine reviews are not on our priority list.” (Just not as high on the list as these traction-creating influencers.)
As Canon’s new ambassadors breathe new life into this marketing initiative, it is a far cry from the authority of the Canon masters who stood for excellence in their craft. The Canon Masters reached a height of sophistication with the National Geographic TV series. Stories in the light. The first season consisted of six episodes that followed another Australian canon master as they practiced their craft in the field.
When not on television programs, the Masters represented Canon at major national events, created branded content, and ran other promotional initiatives. The Canon Masters were perhaps the gold standard for this type of advertising marketing.
By comparison, Sony Australia has listed the same four Digital Imaging Ambassadors on its website since 2016, and Nikon Australia has listed the same seven photographers during that period. For years, no current press releases or announcements about ambassador-related collaborations or projects have landed in the e-mail inbox. These programs are as dead as the Monty Python parrot.
However, the social media influencers have evolved and multiplied.
Sony Australia has built a new community through its 40 Digital Imaging Advocates founded in 2018. They’re not exactly ambassadors, but, well, people who advocate Sony products and are hired as “independent contractors.” Sony states that some lawyers do not receive monetary compensation and may receive “non-monetary benefits” such as free equipment, while others may be paid in cash. Proponents run events through Sony Scene and stick products through social media posts.
Nikon Australia has 20 “Z Creators” eagerly posting landscape images on Instagram, with captions full of gear information and hashtags like “#NikonAustralia # z6 #ZSeriesAU #MyNikonLife #Zcreators”. Nikon’s Z Creators are also independent contractors whose agreements are most likely similar to those of the Sony Advocates.
The nice thing about this social media advertisement is that the lines between an authentic post and an ad are blurring. This is amplified by non-profit camera fans who create even more (free) noise by posting similar posts that feature …[Canon camera and lens]’.
But does it really work when selling cameras? There is a famous saying attributed to the founder of Macy’s department stores: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the problem is, I don’t know which half. ‘
When it comes to social media influencers, “traction” might be nice, but how many additional sales are they generating?