Olympus is targeting new buyers, but the personnel are familiar.
Compile a list of the best British TV commercials ever made and it’s
odds-on that the comedy vignettes for Olympus cameras, starring David
Bailey, will find a place on it.
A product of the creative high-summer at Collett Dickenson Pearce, they
have an enduring quality that belies the fact they first appeared more
than 20 years ago and that it’s five years since an Olympus commercial
Nevertheless, Olympus ended its TV exile this week with a campaign
through Lowe Howard-Spink, safe in the knowledge that the links with its
great advertising heritage haven’t all disappeared.
One fan of the new ads is Frank Lowe, who was chairman of CDP when the
‘Bailey’ campaign made its debut. Another is Olympus’s communications
director, Ian Dickens, the man charged with sustaining its image among a
new generation of camera buyers.
For the past 14 months, Dickens and Lowes have been working on a new
creative treatment in which the supermodel, Naomi Campbell, is
transformed into an 80-year-old woman whose recollections are brought to
life through pictures taken using her Olympus.
Alas, either the camera or the old girl’s memory are playing tricks on
her as she recalls how her ‘novel’, which headed for the remaindered
list faster than a camera’s shutter, scooped the Booker Prize.
Dickens, 40, says a new approach was required to make the brand relevant
to the modern breed of amateur photographer. In the past, Bailey’s
professional endorsement was important because technofear was an issue.
Today, when all the customer has to do is hold the camera still and
press a button, more emotional advertising is needed.
Dickens has board responsibilities across a range of Olympus products,
but he admits to having a lingering fascination with the creative
process - a legacy of his days at art college.
He once took pictures for a living at Autocar magazine, but is now just
an occasional shutterbug. ‘I take pictures of my children. They love it
- I don’t think,’ he says.