Canon wows reporters with an African safari

Canon's 6.3 megapixel EOS 300D, launched in 2003, is regarded as the product that kick-started the digital camera explosion. Last February the firm unveiled its replacement, the 350D.

To gain more media coverage than the main competitor, Nikon, increase Canon's market share and ensure a consistent message across Europe.

Strategy and Plan
Because the 350D was an upgrade, it lacked the big news value of its predecessor, so a two-phase launch was planned. A pan-European launch co-ordinated in 13 countries was followed by a safari trip to Kenya, for which 76 journalists from specialist trade titles were invited.

The initial phase involved sending releases to more than 1,000 journalists. Material included PowerPoint presentations, video footage and, of course, samples of the camera's photography. The product itself was also made available to reviewers.

The safari was aimed at influencing journalists, but was also used to build relationships with them and obtain product feedback. It was Canon's first event of its kind, and involved the biggest temporary camp ever built in eastern Africa.

Almost three-tonnes of equipment was transported to the Masai, including 115 cameras, 337 lenses and 91 lens accessories. Canon worked with Masai Mara communities to host the event, and guest speakers from Kenya addressed journalists on local matters, such as sustainability and poaching.

Measurement and Evaluation
A media analysis was carried out for the period of 10 March to 31 July 2005. It revealed that 1,079 articles in 14
European countries reported the camera launch. Promotional footage sent to journalists was particularly successful: a video animation, for example, was broadcast by BBC World, which has a vast potential audience reach in Europe.

Canon estimates that the advertising value equivalent of the campaign was €7,653,0000 - representing an ROI of 9:1. From February to November 2005, 264,000 units of the 350D were sold. Over the same period, Canon's market share in the digital camera arena grew to 59 per cent, compared with Nikon's 29 per cent. The camera obtained almost twice as many mentions as Nikon's digital range.

Feedback from journalists who attended the safari was overwhelmingly positive. ‘The safari experience was awesome and magical,' says Frank Ladoire, a reporter on French camera magazine Reflexe Numérique.

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