The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

When Is A Camera, Not A Camera?
February 1, 2010, 6:49 am
Filed under: Comment

Hello … how are you?

Did you miss me?

No of course you didn’t … you didn’t even realise I’d gone did you … pah, I don’t know why I bother.

Anyway moving swiftly on, I want to talk about a new campaign from Olympus cameras.

Now before I start, I have to say there’s a lot about the campaign I like …

Even though it’s been said and done before [Kodak for example] I like how they are trying to move photography away from ‘snapshots of momentary interest’ or ‘photographic chops’ to something more about capturing an individual’s feelings and emotions.

What [I think] they’re saying is that photography shouldn’t be about filling an album, it should be about filling your heart, mind and soul with images of emotional importance – a journal of significance so to speak – which is why they’re using headlines like “It’s not a photograph, it’s a memory that hurts every time you see it – Don’t Be A Tourist”.

As I said, it’s nothing too new – but the idea behind it is good and really captures [excuse the pun] what a meaningful photograph can make you feel and think when you see it again – be it after a week or decades.

Of course it is quite similar to that wonderful scene in Mad Men, but I’m willing to overlook that because I think they are onto something because without doubt, digital technology [and mobile phone cameras] has resulted in too many people approaching photography like tourists – simply snapping away without giving [or letting] any emotional connection to the subject they’re capturing.

However there’s a couple of things I hate about this campaign and the is this …

Apart from the fact Kevin Spacey comes across as a bit of a prat [Camera chow, picture wow???] … the ad doesn’t capture any of the emotions that I think the core idea is really about … however the thing I really, really, really hate is the campaign line [which isn’t “Don’t Be A Tourist”, that is a new descriptor in advertising copywriting, known as the headline endline … cough cough] which is this …



Excuse me? A pen? A fucking pen?

Now I know what they’re trying to say – it’s the ’emotional significance journal’ I mentioned earlier – however I think they’ve completely fucked up the idea using that line because apart from it being utterly and completely wanky [and not directly related to the idea given pens also write fucking cheques, sick notes and death threats], the first thing I thought of when I saw it – and saw it in association with a camera brand – was PENtax, yep one of their key competitors.

OK … OK … I appreciate I am sounding like a literal, rational client here, but surely they could have come up with a better word to represent the overall idea as an endline than ‘pen’, because as it stands my first reaction is to say ‘it’s not a pen, it’s a fucking camera you arty-farty, delusional ad wankers’.

Nice idea, bad expression.

23 Comments so far
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seems being in my presence did you some fucking good in the angry stakes. and when you consider the happy hippy love you were bathed in at mountain view my powers seem to be getting stronger. what a fucking legend.

the biro 2.0 idea is ok but theres too many fucking messages going on In the print and so the main idea gets lost and feels slightly wank. talking of wank, how wank is that kevin spacey ad? ill tell you its fucking shit. not seen overacting like that since general fucking hospital.

almost good to have you back campbell. i said almost.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’ve not seen this campaign, but that line ““It’s not a photograph, it’s a memory that hurts every time you see it – Don’t Be A Tourist” is nice. really nice.

As for the sign off… I didn’t even read it as plain old pen. I thought it was an acronym for some new piece of tech they’ve created? Why the capitals? Not the clearest bit of copy…

Welcome back btw, nice angry post!

Comment by mccannmelb

Welcome back Rob, it’s been very quiet without you.

I think most of what I’d say has already been written in the comments but I particulary like your description that “photography shouldn’t be about filling an album, it should be about filling your heart, mind and soul with images of emotional importance.”

That’s a great way to express the strategy and you didn’t need 90 pages of powerpoint to explain it.

Comment by Pete

People who need 90 pages of powerpoint to explain a strategy, aren’t being strategic – they’re being pathetic.

Comment by Rob

“Camera chow picture wow” (?)

Comment by northern

Thought you’d like that Northern.

You good? Made your decisions about life yet? If you have, tell me – I need inspiring.

Comment by Rob

Fine thankyou.
What decisions? They’re made, for now. For the purposes of inspiration, I will be working from home on Fridays. This will consist of early rising. Playing with my son for an hour. Working all morning, and hour on the bike, in the hills, an afternoon with further work before finishing at 6ish, to find myself at home, with my family.
Not too shabby that.

Comment by northern

Not too shabby indeed … and to be honest, that’s the sort of inspiration I was talking about.

You sound like a perfect candidate for ‘Lemonade 2’ … have you seen the film? It’s the one I wrote about here:

Anyway I look forward to hearing more about life and the balance of it – and you might just find you [and Angus] are having more of an influence than you think, and certainly more of an influence than the ads we all churn out. 🙂

Comment by Rob

When it’s a jar?

Comment by John

PEN made me think of Pentax too.

Comment by John

Not saying I think the Olympus work is very exciting. Not at all. But there is a story behind PEN, that photographers (at least) know about.
That’s what they’re working with, but they didn’t exactly play with it much.

Comment by Olle

I love the line “Don’t be a tourist”, I just wish the rest of the campaign was as good.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I think the ‘Don’t Be A Tourist’ line is the most powerful – though I did use it for Lonely Planet a few years ago, ha – however the ‘pen’ thing is lost and even if it is something that photographers understand [thanks for that Olle, and welcome to the blog] there are 2 issues that arise from it …

1/ This is another example where the meaning of the campaign is known by people actively involved in its inception rather than something a stranger can ‘get’ and ‘understand’ [though the ‘DBAT’ line does have resonance with people, regardless how little or much they know of the campaign or the camera]

2/ Surely the idea of the campaign is to appeal to all people who take photographs – especially the mass market ‘touristesque snapper’ – not the photographic enthusiast … or am I being a pedantic tit?


Comment by Rob

its not a pen, its a pun. hahaha, im funny, am i 🙂 whilst i like the idea of filling the mind etc. with images, what they did is a bit weird… somehow it seems to be influenced a little too much from the caroussell, for my liking. i dont want to hurt every time if i look at a pic i took at a boat on the sea or something and i surely dont feel hurt when i look at a beautiful picture i made… but thats just me… which reminds me that i saw a photograph of people taking pictures at auschwitz. have to say it hurt a bit to see that they were trying to make beautiful shots there, laying on the ground to capture whatever through/near barbed wire. or at least it was very odd to look at. seems they were infact looking to find beauty in misery or something… anyway…

welcome back! 🙂

Comment by peggy

‘Don’t be tourist’? Go fuck yourself Olympus.

Comment by niko

its not a pen its a pun. thats the best fucking comment on here and its from a woman and a german woman at that. what the fuck is the world coming to?

im happier peggys back than campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

and ive fucking missed niko and his forked fucking tongue.

angry is our business and business is fucking good.

Comment by andy@cynic

thank you andy for making me feel welcome… since rob didnt say anything 😛

guess the world is still as nuts as always. somehow, i hope someone is going to sort that out soon tho lol

Comment by peggy

campbell is a prick peggy and the sooner you and everyone else realises it the happier ill fucking well be. i just did 48 nonfuckingstop hours in his company so i know what im talking about. wheres the geneva fucking convention when you need it?

Comment by andy@cynic

are you serious? i always thought rob is a nice guy. im still inclined to think that 🙂 but hey, no reason not to be happy. well, the geneva conventions? i bet they are sitting savely in a safe somewhere, probably geneva, ha. a bit like constitutions of some countires, i hear.

Comment by peggy

Pedantic possibly, but then I bet most tourists don’t like to think that they themselves are ‘tourists’.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

thats possibly true rob… when is a tourist not a tourist? see what i just did there? 🙂

Comment by peggy

It was the best 48 hours of your life and you know it Boucher!

Thank you Peggy – you’re rather lovely too. 🙂

Comment by Rob

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