Birds In Focus: Canon and the National Audubon Society
Canon U.S.A. is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions.
Given the rising ubiquity of sophisticated cameras in smartphones and other everyday tech devices, in order to remain competitive and relevant Canon has intentionally extended its reach in unexpected, engaging ways.
With the goal of developing new business, teams from Canon U.S.A.’s Imaging Technologies & Communications Group have been diligently forming new partnerships to introduce Canon imaging products – which include printers, binoculars, and projectors in addition to the better-known cameras and lenses – to new audiences.
Canon has found that experiential marketing is one of the most effective ways to introduce their products to and build brand affinity with these new potential consumers.
Canon needed a partner that would help them differentiate and showcase their cameras and lenses to new audiences in ways that were both innovative and meaningful. As one of the top environmental organizations in the western hemisphere with a 115-year legacy of protecting birds and the places they need and a proven track record of award-winning photojournalism, the National Audubon Society was the perfect partner to do just that.
Audubon’s track record of wins is what makes it America’s most trusted and most effective conservation network, boasting an incredibly loyal membership of 1.7MM+ members who look to the organization for ways in which they can take personal actions – including consumer choices – on behalf of birds and the environment.
Both Canon U.S.A. and the National Audubon Society recognize the imperative of positively engaging new audiences in order to move the needle. To reach these goals, the two created Birds in Focus, an experiential cause marketing campaign aimed at building awareness around birds while putting Canon in focus for consumers.
Both organizations collaborated on mapping out the program, taking place in 9 cities across the U.S. that were identified as target markets for Canon while also having a robust Audubon presence. Together, the two teamed up to share the striking beauty and wonder of birds with people all over the country, through the lens of photography.
A cornerstone of Birds in Focus are program events concentrating on delivering high quality, high touch, hand-to-hand experiential marketing of Canon cameras, lenses, and binoculars in tandem with driving awareness and action on behalf of birds and the places they need. In 2019, each of these unique events – marketed extensively via Canon’s, Audubon’s, and participating local retailers’ digital platforms – offered guests several ways in which they could engage with both brands.
Participants were able to test and try Canon equipment, loan this equipment for use on a bird photography walk, interface with Canon photography experts, hear a talk delivered by a Canon Explorer of Light, witness a live bird demo, and learn about actions they can take on behalf of birds and the environment.
Guests also had the opportunity to purchase Canon equipment, as well as donate to or otherwise become more involved with their local Audubon center. And, camera retailer involvement helped the local business further establish relationships with their community, opening the door for additional engagement and business within their current customer base while also introducing them to new potential customers.
Canon also sponsored to Audubon Photography Awards, printing a set of the winning photographs for display at 45 Audubon centers and chapters throughout the nation. And, in addition to these in-person experiential engagement strategies, Canon and Audubon partnered on strategic digital engagement throughout the duration of the Birds in Focus campaign. One of these, the #WorstBirdPic contest, was enjoyed by many relevant influencers, including bird photographers and scientists, and received 350+ entries.
Through a calculated combination of various multi-channel touchpoints, Canon and Audubon were successful in crafting an in-person experiential marketing campaign bolstered and amplified by digital strategies to deliver maximum engagement and drive conversions for their respective goals.
Birds in Focus has been a very successful partnership for Canon, driving significant sales of Canon gear and engaging with enthusiasts, families, and ultimately customers through their passion points – birds, nature, and photography.
The program is a tremendous win-win for everyone involved, effectively building brand affinity for Canon, and encouraging the use of actual cameras and lenses – instead of smartphones – to get the best quality images.
Thanks to a generous contribution from Canon U.S.A., the Birds in Focus program drove $1MM in unrestricted funding for the National Audubon Society. Much of these funds were distributed among the participating Audubon nature centers across the country, with even more being invested into the high-quality local activations and rich photography programming sited at these centers.
One of the greatest takeaways from this program was seeing first-hand how effective Birds in Focus events are at driving increased foot traffic to Audubon’s nature centers, at scale. Over 75% of Birds in Focus attendees were first-time visitors to the centers, many traveling across state lines to attend the event. This has proved to have an invaluable impact in elevating Audubon’s profile at both the local and national levels, especially given the high level of quality programming and experiences new guests enjoyed.
The Birds in Focus campaign has also generated immensely positive buzz on social media. Not only has this helped in spreading news of the event series, it has also been instrumental in introducing even more people to ways they can engage with and support Audubon’s tireless work protecting birds and the places they need.