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Exposed - The $2400 5D Mk II viral ad


Andrew Reid

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Guest tjbates05
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Stories like this happen all the time. I think we all need to take a deep breath and dive back into film making.
For Sale: Canon EOS 1000D
Description: only used underwater once, in the Pacific Ocean, for approximately one year.

https://plus.google.com/104277202662943073951/posts/MH4ZjS8fi2q

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Know what irks me a bit is something similar….stupid hack tests of trees and gop motion get bigger hits than quality films made by people who work hard to write,script and want to make films on places like vimeo.
But aint that always the way.
People prefer to watch shit like fluffy cats on youtube than something with content.

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Guest Andrew Reid
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It irks me a bit too that my tests get higher ratings when they reveal a new capability of a camera, but that is what people in this context are interested in, so it is understandable and clearly labeled as a test. This viral isn’t clearly labeled as a big B&H ad, which is what it has become.

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Guest rsenecal
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I just see that this blog is also making B&H (and Canon) a huge favor by covering this story… [img]http://www.eoshd.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif[/img]

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Guest ohnostudio
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Hi Andrew – I feel your pain on this one. Yeah I picked up the video on my blog. But I just thought it was idiotic is all. Over time I have been distancing myself from such things. Don’t forget, the photography world is now infested with the least common denominator of the population. Yeah, sorry to sound haughty, but it’s true. I strive for some original content on my blog, I recently wrote a piece on the Andreas Gursky $4.3 million photo silliness which 5 people probably read. My pursuit to get out of my creative box as I muse and write about it has an audience of about 3. It’s all about Which Button Do I Push to Do That, 10 Tips to Shoot Perfect Fireworks, Glamour Retouch in 3 Minutes or Less. It’s Unbox Your New Gear So I Can Salivate. What bullsh&t. It’s all hit and run and move on to the next big thing.

There was one shooter that I admired for a few years. So when I became Twitterized etc I naturally plugged him into my lists. But do you know what? Every post, and I mean every post by him is a plug. And no, it’s not Ken Rockwell. At least Ken admits he’s shameless. One night I took a good solid look at Mr Plugger’s work – and guess what? It’s basically crap. I guess if you buy plane tickets to foreign lands and get yourself a bunch of photoshop plugin packs, then write about it 5 times a day, you too can get noticed.

So I just sift through the noise now and I’ve gotten back to my craft, to the stuff I really want to do. And I’ll keep writing for that audience of 3. Or maybe I’ll just go and drop my D3 into the ocean and hope for a replacement from Nikon.

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Here’s my take.

First, it’s PR, not an ad. There is a difference.

Here’s the bottom line, a 5dII user’s bad luck = a ton of eyeballs (photographer’s equivalent of rubber-necking on the highway). B&H sees an opportunity to emphasize their philosophy – http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/HelpCenter/AboutUs.jsp – and they took it.

Even though it’s not a paid advertising placement, they need solid return on investment for the $2,400 they shelled out—it only makes sense and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous. Yes, they latched onto a story, it’s how PR works. You either generate a story or you attach yourself to one. Is it unfair that other photographers who have lost cameras have to pay for replacements? Sure. But, as you said, if they replaced everyone’s busted camera they wouldn’t have a business.

Nothing has been “exposed” here. It’s a simple value proposition. Guy gets a replacement camera and B&H gets positive PR. There are more insidious PR methods than this transparent story.

For the record, I’ve purchased from B&H, Adorama, Amazon, and several local camera shops over the years. I have no preference for B&H one way or the other.

P.S. I’m with you on drivel being posted over quality content.

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Andrew, suppose on one of your shooting spree in Tokyo or Shanghai, your GH2 gets knocked down or destroyed accidentally, and you shared this with the community on your blog. B&H upon reading it, decided to send you a new GH2. Would you feel that your sharing is equally considered a viral ad and would feel equally unhappy towards B&H for replacing it for you, be it out of marketing latch or just props to you for the benefits you have given to the community through your blog?
I personally would feel honored and happy to receive such gift if I were in that position. The blogger also probably didn’t know his post would generate so much hits and eventually considered a pseudo-ad.

By the way, I’ve been reading your blog for the past few months (only discovered it recently [img]http://www.eoshd.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] ) and I have definitely enjoyed your valuable info. I’m not an affiliate to B&H in any way, I can promise you that.
Just my thoughts on this in regards to your post.

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I find it interesting that, as a film-maker, you can take issue with both misrepresentation of reality, and the use of hidden advertising in media. Films have been billboards for companies wanting to subliminally advertise their products for decades. Everything from clothing to cars to computers to candy has been slipped into films via product placement (in documentaries too). As a film-maker you already know this. Many films unlitmately aim to suspend disbelief, and it is a medium that can make you believe, if only for a moment, that what you are watching is truly reality, no matter how foreign or unreal it is – which also explains why films act as the perfect billboard. Again, as a film-maker you already know this.

So then, how can you take issue with the above example? How does the fact that this video has now become a marketing vehicle change the content at all? Just like any other film you watch, you can choose to accept or reject the information put to you.

You suggest that this type of hidden marketing needs to be regulated, or monitored. Does that mean you imagine a world in which every film we watch has messages flashing onscreen saying “Warning: this product was included in the film via a paid endoresement,” right throughout?

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Guest matt2491
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At least Andrew has the fairness in him to publish negative posts like this one. If anything, I trust him more than someone like, say, Philip Bloom, who refuses to post anything even slightly slanderous towards him or his affiliates.

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Guest abortabort
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I feel that you might be taking all this a little out of context and attempting to make people feel like they are being robbed somehow by B&H. There is a term known as Good Will and it has a value in a companies worth, this is part of how a brand is valued and it has existed long long before viral videos, certainly the Internet kind. Basically brands will do a seemingly altruistic gesture like this to give warm fuzzy feelings about an organization, it isn’t about ‘advertising’ per se. In this case B&H aren’t trying to profit from the original video, they are creating a completely separate act that would hopefully (for B&H) create lots of additional interest due to the popularity of the original video.

Mining companies for example do many similar things, they pay for schools and youth centers, public resources and so on in a community to raise good will towards that company. other companies such as Apple promote product (Red) products, they do this to increase good will for their brand. We wouldn’t sit around saying that Apple are profiteering from AIDS now would we? We say they are doing a good thing and that it is helping the community and that makes us feel good about what they do (well those who don’t hate and despise them anyway – this is an example it isn’t meant to spark debate over Apple as a company or product). McDonalds do the same thing with Ronald McDonald House Charities – they do these things to increase Good Will, so you will feel better about buying from them.

B&H are doing the same thing here, they aren’t out and out saying ‘well if he’d bought this product from us it would have x-factory super coverage’ blah blah. They are also NOT trying to sell something specific here, they aren’t promoting a product, they are giving a price or a benefit, they aren’t even trying to ‘say’ they are better in some way than another competitor – B&H are trying to make you feel like they are a brand worth supporting.

The problem with your argument is because they aren’t advertising as such, it is a bit hard to say ‘this is an advert’ because in reality it isn’t and even if it was, the advert is them giving the guy a new camera, not the viral video of the camera being destroyed.

Press releases work in much the same way, I don’t read every article that you write, though I do visit here every so often, but I can recall having seen some press releases on your site (correct me if I’m wrong) and this leads to lots of nice free coverage for all manufacturers when they bring out a new product, lots of free press, well a retail channel such as B&H doesn’t have a lot of ‘worth’ in free press as they don’t really do anything other than sell goods – unless they do some goodwill gesture. And hey it worked! Even your site is making comment on it and all publicity is good publicity, even if you are giving B&H a hard time for it – to prove the point even further, I hadn’t and wouldn’t have even heard about it until I read about it right here at EOSHD.

There are dirtier ways to advertise, I think that B&H have done pretty ok here, I think people can see it is for publicity but it still makes them feel good about the brand and that is what it is all about.

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I appreciate the debate this interesting situation has generated. I appreciate everyone here who posted thoughtful comments, either way. I do think a couple deserve individual attention though.

“B&H claimed that they sent the poor guy a brand new 5D Mark II …”
We don’t claim we did — we really did.

“…its probably 99.9% likely the whole stunt was set up by B&H.”
In fact we came upon this situation after it was posted to Vimeo, No stunt and no set-up.

“I’m happy for the guy he has a new camera, he must have felt devastated when it was destroyed, B&H IS a hero for replacing it.. and so what if they only did it for the advertising,”
“Even though it’s not a paid advertising placement, they need solid return on investment for the $2,400 they shelled out—it only makes sense and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous. Yes, they latched onto a story, it’s how PR works. You either generate a story or you attach yourself to one. ”
Thank you. Of course we did it for the advertising/publicity. We could have taken the same money and bought more pages in the back of PopPhoto or more air time on WCBS-AM, but in our opinion this was a far more useful way to spend that money. We did a guy who had a loss a favor and we got some PR for doing it. We’re not a charity and we didn’t do this for entirely altruistic reasons. But I’m glad we did it, glad the guy’s got a new camera and glad it’s generated the conversation it has.
– Henry Posner / B&H Photo-Video

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PS:
“It is time to start judging companies on their REAL merits not what their marketing teams want you to think.”

I agree with this 100% and have no trouble with B&H being held to this standard at all. Ethics & integrity cannot be replaced and there’s no marketing or advertising that substitutes for a company doing what it should and treating customers as they should be treated.
– Henry Posner / B&H Photo-Video

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I think you are looking too far into this. B&H may have done this for selfish reasons, but like garnetcampbell said above, both parties win. B&H was a good company before this happened and I don’t think this is wrong. I’m sure they did this after they saw the video blowing up, but they still took care of a customer and that’s what they do on a day to day basis. Who cares? By the way, I love the blog!

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