For years, consumers have been inspired to get into photography by Hollywood. Canon USA is now attempting to send the inspiration in the other direction, enlisting Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard for a marketing campaign that will use still photography to inspire a short film.
"It's really something we came up with for people to inspire others to create things through our products," Rob Altman, manager of camera and video marketing for Canon USA, tells Marketing Daily. "We want people to use their cameras to inspire others."
The new effort, "Long Live Imagination," breaks this week with a television commercial featuring Howard. The video showcases fantastical imagery, such as a giant astronaut walking a diamond-encrusted dog down a city street, firefighters floating in the air and buildings walking on mechanical legs. The video quickly reveals the action is taking place outside Howard's apartment window as he's looking at photographs. "Imagine inspiring a Ron Howard production with your photograph," says a voiceover.
"He's got a terrific reputation in the industry and appeals to a wide audience," Altman says of Howard. "And so do we."
Photographers, from amateur to professional, are then encouraged to submit their own photos based on one of eight themes (Setting, Time, Character, Mood, Relationship, Goal, Obstacle and Unknown). "Those are the key elements of a film," Altman says. "When you think about every good movie you've seen, they each have elements from those categories."
The photos will be submitted through Canon's dedicated YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/imagination, which was built specifically to be passed on through social media channels such as Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. "The main thing we're expecting is to get out the word virally and through social media," Altman says. "In today's world, where image is such an important part of communication, that's what this [campaign] is about."
Howard, along with Canon experts and members of the Project Imagin8tion community, will narrow down the submissions -- eventually choosing one photo from each category to become the basis and inspiration for a short film, executive produced by Howard and shot on Canon products. That short film will have a premiere in New York City later this year, which the photographers behind the photos will be invited to attend.