Canon launches second TV series; pushes experiences over advertising

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 22 September 2016

Camera powerhouse Canon has pressed play on its second TV series in partnership with National Geographic, with the brand pushing further into its strategy of providing consumers content and experiences opposed to directly selling to them.

Called Tales by Light, this series follows several famed photographers as they shoot some of the world's most interesting locations and Canon's director of consumer imaging and executive producer Jason McLean told AdNews the brand received an “excellent response” from series one, making it a “no-brainer” to commission season two.

The launch of the series is a continuation from the photography and camera business to shift its marketing spend away from traditional advertising and focus more on events, as well as what happens after a consumer buys a Canon product.

“People don't want to be sold to any more,” McLean told AdNews. “There's a real cynicism to companies selling at you, so you've got be a bit different in the way you approach your consumers.”

Last year after series one aired, Canon held several events as a way to get in touch with consumers off the back of the episodes and for McLean this is how the brand derived a lot of value from the series. There is no mention of Canon in the episodes, other than the equipment used, rather the target audience being semi-experienced and pro-photographers began to interact with the brand to ask about how the equipment was used after the episodes air. 

“Because the photographers in the series are quite well renowned in their field, there's a lot of the social chatter and we got a lot of questions around what were they shooting on, that was a good judge on the success of the partnership,” McLean says.

“There wasn't a hard sales KPI against this, we thought let's make an interesting product where the stories are interesting, where people want to watch and engage with us.”

This shift in Canon's strategy has been in the works for sometime, with it being cemented when the brand decided to partner with Leo Burnett on both of its media and creative work this time last year.

Speaking previously of the move, McLean said it wasn't about cost cutting rather it was about having one team working across both media and creative to drive a more holistic strategy, but he believes that the brand’s marketing and media spend is increasing if anything. He outlined at the time that what’s changing is the allocation of where it’s going is moving more from bought media to experiences. It’s not split by channel but by what objective Canon wants to achieve.

“This part of our marketing is about celebrating what people have been able to do with our product,” McLean says. “We've got the experience side like Vivid, which is helping people do more. It's about taking your advertising investment and helping it do more – what we call it after the box – when people have actually bought a product, rather than your traditional path to purchase marketing.”

This year's series comprises of three one-hour episodes, taking a different approach from the six half-hour episode format of Season one, in response to viewer demand for longer, more immersive storytelling.

“Viewers can rightly expect that a partnership between National Geographic and Canon will deliver a stunning visual feast. However, the real power in the second season of Tales by Light is the ability to travel alongside such talented and dedicated photographers to experience the world as they see it” explained ANZ managing director of Fox Networks group and National Geographic partners, Jacqui Feeney.

The series is currently only airing in the Australian market, however it is understood there are plans in the works to take the content to other markets outside Australia and New Zealand.

The first episode of Tales by Light series two will premiere on 25 October on the National Geographic Channel.

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