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Advertising 101: Understanding and Attracting Today’s DI Consumers

It’s ultimately all about making a
lasting connection with consumers

February 2007 By Lorraine A. DarConte
Advertising is the typical way companies introduce new product and remind consumers of said product, often on a fairly regular basis. When it comes to photographic products there are numerous ways to sell them—one is by focusing on the products’ technical features and another is by selling the end-product, be it a digital file, video, paper print, etc. Ads can be humorous and clever, emotional and touching, or just about the facts, ma’am. In the end, their messages either burn themselves into the public psyche, or disappear from memory faster than yesterday’s news.

What makes an ad work? Fuji, HP, Nikon, and Pentax explain the process. Pictured here are some of their current advertisements along with commentary from each manufacturer as to whom it’s selling its product, how, and why.

Fujifilm: The Side by Side Comparison

At Fujifilm, technology is key. Joan Rutherford, Vice President of Advertising/Marketing Communications, Fujifilm U.S.A., Inc., told us the objective of the company’s recent digital camera advertising is to demonstrate to consumers—through side-by-side comparisons—how Fujifilm’s unique Real Photo Technology overcomes common problems consumers have when taking pictures. These include blurry pictures caused by low light or moving subjects, out of focus group shots and underexposed faces when the people are backlit, as well as other common exposure problems.

“By showing typical results side-by-side with those produced by our FinePix digital cameras with Fujifilm Real Photo Technology, we are able to quickly and visibly demonstrate our features, advantages and benefits, as well as differentiate ourselves from our competition,” she explained. Fujifilm’s television commercials convey the same message. “The production of the television commercials is very similar in that we rely on actual photography,” says Rutherford, “not simulation.”

Targeting Women with Children

“At this point,” continues Rutherford, “the target for digital cameras is very similar to the traditional film camera users—adults with an emphasis on women ages 25-54 with kids. However, there is also a younger adult audience as well. Fujifilm uses an advertising tracking study to learn how the advertising is affecting the consumers’ perception of Fujifilm Digital Cameras. The tracking study is used to determine whether the message is being heard—Are consumers hearing the Fujifilm technology message? We use the results of the study to determine what is resonating with consumers,” concludes Rutherford, “and how we can refine our messaging to more effectively achieve the desired result.”

Pentax’s Pragmatic Explorers

Pentax’s primary audience is a group of consumers we call the ‘Pragmatic Explorers’, states Ned Bunnell, Vice President of Marketing, Pentax Imaging Company. “Pragmatic Explorers are a very active, adventurous, spontaneous group that loves to travel, cares about nature and has a passion for the outdoors. They enjoy life and take care of themselves. They enjoy being active with their families and friends and are looking for a camera that can keep up with their lifestyle, capture their favorite moments and be a companion to their lives, not just an accessory.”

Media Strategies

New camera technologies have also spurred new advertising venues. Companies like Pentax, who have consistently been national print advertisers, are also looking at online opportunities. “The biggest change in our media plans has come in the last few years,” notes Bunnell, “as the Internet has grown into a viable and very effective advertising vehicle; so we have increased our presence on the Web.

“Every year we evaluate our media strategy and tactics based on the objectives we have for that year so it’s hard to say what the future brings. In general,” says Bunnell, “we’d like to continue to increase our presence online by exploring programs beyond banner ads as well as continue to expand our non-traditional efforts. We need to find better ways to engage our consumers as the media landscape continues to fragment and they become harder to connect with. Consistent with our effort to reach the Pragmatic Explorer, Pentax will continue to focus on lifestyle magazines and increase spending in photography publications to promote DSLRs. As we did this year, expect some OOH (out-of-home) campaigns and viral marketing efforts like coffee sleeves and active life sports sponsorships.”

Pentax will continue to target the Pragmatic Explorer in 2007 in addition to targeting the more serious photographer/photo enthusiast. The successful introduction of two new digital SLRs (K100D & K10D) makes Pentax hot again to this segment.

HP: The Emotional Connection

“In our recent TV commercial,” states Robert Chisholm, North America advertising manager, Imaging and Printing Group, HP, “we focused on making an engaging, emotional connection with consumers around photos printed with HP. We featured Abigail Breslin, 5th grader and Academy Award nominee, telling fun, sweet, compelling, true stories about her photographs and their place in her life, an experience enabled by the fast, easy HP Photosmart printer.

“By using a unique, contemporary, accessible person of interest, as well as innovative special effects and cinematography,” says Chisholm, “we aimed to add an additional level of interest to the spot that would increase consumer engagement and connection, making the advertising stand out and be memorable in this digital age where commercials are often overlooked.” To hear Abigail’s photo stories and see the spot visit

Nikon: What Consumers Want

According to Anna Marie Bakker, director of communications for Nikon, Inc., the company is constantly working to understand its consumers and refresh its knowledge on what attracts consumers. “Before developing an advertising strategy we conduct several focus groups in order to find the most compelling message about the product. This information is then used when developing the advertising campaign. Additionally, focus groups are conducted as advertising concepts are available,” states Bakker. “This stage determines if the actual creative is resonating with our target and to make sure it will motivate them to buy the product.”

Creating an Interactive Experience

“The end goal is to reach consumers interested in capturing stunning photographs using Nikon digital cameras. Nikon’s overall message has not changed much,” notes Bakker, “however we are constantly tailoring how we reach consumers. Consumers interested in film cameras might have a different view point on how they determine which camera is right for them versus a digital SLR consumer versus a Coolpix consumer.

“In either scenario, it is important for Nikon to engage the consumer and create an opportunity for them to interact with the product or experience. In order to engage the consumer it is important to place our messages where they spend their time, including print publications and the Web. Utilizing the Web has provided an opportunity to conduct an ongoing interactive experience. The Web has opened the door for consumers to communicate to each other and share their experiences and knowledge,” notes Baker, “which tends to have more communication value than a brand informing you on a product.”

Selling the Photographic Experience

“Nikon has always developed products to provide consumers the ability to create beautiful photographs and preserve special moments. Whether it was during the film or digital generation, Nikon always prides itself on the ability to offer the latest digital technologies and features. As digital cameras have evolved, it has been important to include the latest technology in order to achieve beautiful images,” she added. “At Nikon we believe we are selling the photographic experience, which is enhanced by the latest technology and features.”

Real-Life Scenarios

Bakker also spoke of Nikon’s attempts to bring in and engage the younger demographic that is taking to digital these days. “Nikon has always been known and respected as a dedicated photographic company,” continues Bakker. “Nikon prides itself on quality products and consumer experiences when capturing their images but over the years Nikon has been perceived as ‘your father’s camera brand.’ It is important for Nikon to correct that misconception. Most recently, Nikon has been expanding the brand to engage a younger and more youth-minded demographic. In order to do this Nikon has been developing programs that are more cutting edge and socially relevant. Nikon believes it is important for consumers to learn from their peers’ experiences. From this perspective consumers become influenced to purchase or create their own experiences. Nikon’s D80 campaign, for example, presents sixteen real life passionate shooters sharing their experiences and stories that consumers at this demographic can relate to.

“In developing this campaign,” explains Bakker, “Nikon felt it was important to provide real life scenarios that radiate the photographers’ passion and vision, which many consumers are also experiencing. Of the sixteen D80 shooters that were chosen, 4 had their photos highlighted in an integrated campaign, featuring multiple-page print advertisements that drove consumers to the accompanying Web site— Bios, video diaries and other information on the Web site allowed consumers to become more involved with all sixteen personalities and learn more about great photography with the Nikon D80 digital SLR.”


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