Photos – To Die For?
This one minute commercial was published by Canon on November 20, 2012. As of this morning, twelve days later, it has racked up 319,692 YouTube views. It’s received 2,830 likes, 12 dislikes. It has over a hundred comments. Someone is paying attention. I have no knowledge whether or not this commercial is intended to air on National TV, but it’s one minute length suggests it is. Should it air nationally, in the USA alone nearly fifty million people will see it.
As a professional photographer and like so many other viewers, I find it funny as hell. It had me rolling on the floor laughing the first time I saw it. I’ve been in many such potentially dangerous but comical situations myself while making pictures; so have most other professionals. It’s just a part of the game, the risks you take creating cutting edge imagery. It’s what clients like Canon pay the big bucks for – productions that result in great images few others could ever make.
As professionals, when we receive a creative brief we assess the costs to execute it. One of those costs is assessing the degree of risk or physical harm that could result from working in such dangerous conditions. Again as professionals, if we don’t have enough direct experience assessing the risks and removing them, we call in outside consultants who are experts in safely executing those types of stunts. Even in the world of trained professionals, mistakes and accidents do happen. The risks are greatest anytime physical danger is present.
Grey New York is Canon’s advertising agency who created this spot. I think in the drive for a “viral” video the direction of Tor Myhren, Chief Creative Officer of Grey New York, may have gone too far. I am quite certain that his production was done with the highest of safety standards and controls in place to protect the actors, staff, and production crew from harm. I am also quite sure that there were millions of dollars of liability insurance protection in place to cover any unlikely accidents that could occur. All large professional productions such as this require it as a matter of course.
My problem with this commercial is that it is not intended for view only by professionals who know better. This is a commercial intended for consumers; for bankers, lawyers, doctors, company executives, and working moms and dads who like to take pictures. These people are not trained professionals who know how to assess risk, let alone how to mitigate it.
Canon marketing calls this piece “Imagination.” It doesn’t take much of my imagination to visualize thousands of viewers getting fired up while viewing this new Canon “Imagination” piece and actually going out and trying some of these very dumb stunts for themselves. I mean, hey, if I could get a rare bat photo nobody else had, I’d give it a try myself. Wouldn’t you?
The legal department at Canon corporate dropped the ball in approving this commercial spot. In my opinion, at the very least, responsible advertising ethics dictate a “PROFESSIONAL STUNT; DO NOT TRY THIS” disclaimer be placed on this video, if not an even stronger warning message. Serious stunts are demonstrated; stunts which gone wrong could result in serious injury or even death. It’ll be interesting to see if this ad is even accepted by the broadcast networks.
To all of you would be Bat photographers, or Dad’s thinking of climbing a snow covered roof for a snow angel of your own, I say please don’t try this alone. Be responsible with your photography and with the examples you set for your children. These are all professional actors with professional production teams backing up their safety. Yeah, if you get the photo it would be great for your album; but is it worth dying for? A family without a father is not a very happy family, whatever photos may remain.
Learn more at imagination.usa.canon.com
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