Media: Strategy Analysis - Selling serious digital photography

Brand: Nikon

Client: Jeremy Gilbert at Nikon

Brief: Launch the D70

Target audience: ABC1 Adults

Budget pounds: 700,000

AGENCIES

Media: Alex Bickford and Guy Abrahams at BLM Media

Creative: Doner Cardwell Hawkins

STRATEGY In early 2004, BLM was appointed by Nikon to launch the D70, the first Nikon digital SLR costing less than £1,000.

The insight for the campaign came from understanding the target audience through qualitative and quantitative research. TGI data provided BLM with data on the types of people who spend this kind of money on a digital camera.

From this, the agency was able to build a picture of the potential customer: his love of his family, good wine and organic food; his impractical car ( either a convertible or a 4x4) and numerous unnecessary gadgets; his creativity and spur-of-the-moment nature, and his expensive hobbies. This techno-savvy perfectionist liked to own quality things and was prepared to pay for them.

Focus groups were then able to overlay his attitudes towards photography (digital and analogue), the Nikon brand and the D70 proposition.This insight allowed Nikon to exploit the target consumers' love of photography. While appreciating the convenience of digital cameras, the target audience believed only a Nikon SLR delivered real photography.

EXECUTION

- Press As BLM knew the audience liked to read about photography, it built the core of the campaign around the audience's favourite supplements and consumer magazines. Great care was taken only to use magazines with high-quality paper and photographic reproduction. Attention was also given to positioning the ads close to great photography or technology. BLM also worked closely with the creative agency Doner Cardwell Hawkins to ensure the headlines on the ads matched the titles that they were running in.

To cover the opinion-formers, quasi-professionals and the trade, advertorials in key interest titles showed the advantages when photographing wildlife, yachts or classic cars.

BLM also created a special digital SLR photography supplement in The Independent and a competition to win a D70, the best entries to which made up a special feature in The Independent Magazine.

- Outdoor Aside from classic cars and yachts, the audience likes to take lots of photographs on holiday. BLM chose to advertise on the Heathrow Express platforms, the premium route to the airport, to encourage airport sales.

- Online The process of buying a camera such as this one is not just about seeing the advertising. These broadband super-surfers use the internet as their major source of information, so they would be checking out the D70 online before making a purchase. To make this process easier for potential buyers, BLM bought online keywords to signpost the D70 site.

RESULTS

The D70 launch was a sell-out for Nikon, creating a three-month waiting list. The scale of demand was demonstrated by the 1,134 Independent purchasers who went to the trouble of sending in a photograph to win a D70. This success has led to additional support to position the D70 as the ultimate Christmas present, following the same basic strategy.

THE VERDICT

Iain Jacob - chief executive, Starcom Mediavest

When a camera comes free with your mobile phone, the idea that you can enter the world of digital photography for just shy of £1,000 may seem less than compelling.

Of course, Nikon is from a different world. For serious photographers, digital usually spells compromise and the flexibility to take average-quality snapshots.But Nikon doesn't do snapshots, and the emotive pull of being part of the serious-photographer club for less than a grand is compelling to a photography nerd such as myself.

BLM also identified other passionate interests of the D70's potential customers. By focusing its efforts in these areas - classic cars, yachts, technology and quality supplements - it has combined rational relevance with the emotional reassurance that these authoritative environments provide.

It has built on this by providing valuable content in the form of "how to" guides, crafted to the individual subject matter of publications.

Finally, it has created a supplement in The Independent, fuelling every amateur's belief that they could be the next Bailey, or even Helmut Newton.

I know how hard it is to do what BLM and Doner Cardwell Hawkins have achieved - and the results speak for themselves. However, I can't help thinking that the approach could have been driven even harder. BLM's campaign was well-crafted but in many ways did the expected. The D70 is unexpected - a genuine breakthrough and the solution to an audience who believed that digital meant compromise. I feel that the magazine environment could have been used in a more powerful and emotive way, to really make the reader stop in their tracks.

How about creating a virtual gallery in the magazines, using heavyweight or specialist paper inserts? Or exploiting the much higher production values available on the outside back covers to illustrate the capability of the D70 with a series of targeted photographic posters?

This type of approach, suitable for a manufacturer seeking to shift thousands rather than millions of units, would more strongly emphasise the leadership of the D70 in a market that, even for Nikon, is becoming increasingly competitive and commoditised as technology advances at its terrifying pace.

SCORE: 3.5/5.

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