Nikon Marketing’s Amazing Feat: Overshadowing The Launch of the D4
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Nikon announced their new flagship SLR, the Nikon D4, to much anticipation made long unfulfilled by last year's tragedies (Japan earthquake, Thailand flooding). I would, of course, love one, but with a price in Japan close to US$8,000 and Santa not scheduled for another 11.5 months, it looks doubtful.

Anyway, I'm in the process of reading the D4 press release and am left in wonder by the ultra thick spread of marketing fluff that I don't recall in earlier Nikon releases. For example, talking about the low-light ability, they say:

Like the D3 and D3s before it, the Nikon D4 retains Nikon’s status as the sovereign of low-light capture ability, with a native ISO range from 100 to 12,800 ISO, expandable from 50 to an incredible yet usable 204,800.

which is just fine — the use of phrases like “sovereign” is strong when used in limited doses — but then they continue with:

From a candlelit first dance to nocturnal wildlife, the large 7.3µ pixel size absorbs the maximum amount of light to excel in any situation.

“Excel in any situation”... what does that even mean? The entire sentence could have been replaced with “Pixel size is 7.3µ.” and it would have retained exactly the same information, while shedding the smarmy, fake feeling that makes me want to shower before moving on to the next paragraph.

I'd really love to chat with the person who wrote/approved this, to find out what beneficial effect they actually envision this kind of prose has on what kind of people? To me it's the textual equivalent of Tammy Fay Baker makeup.... I just don't see this kind of writing as anything other than a total failure in every respect. I'm not even half way through the press release, but already this kind of crap has been laid on so thick in paragraph after paragraph that my desire to vent about it actually eclipses my desire to know more about the camera (and hence I'm here writing this post instead of reading further). Bravo, Nikon Marketing, bravo... that's an amazing feat.

I'm excited to go on to find out more about the camera, but all I can do is hope that camera was designed by brighter minds than Nikon has in their marketing department.

All 11 comments so far, oldest first...

Well, Jeffrey, it could be worse… take a look at Olympus’ marketing. They practically don’t have any!

(Although they seemingly used to be able to come out with some gems, such as this one: (sorry, it doesn’t seem like your blog allows for images to be coded into the message, so the link will have to do!)).

Holy cow, that’s creepy! —Jeffrey

— comment by David K. on January 6th, 2012 at 2:40pm JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Is it kosher to use “µ” by itself to mean “micron”? After all, that symbol is also used in conjunction with other letters to mean other things, like µL for micro-liters. Why not use µM? Not cool enough?

Apparently, yes (but only until 1967). —Jeffrey

— comment by Zachary on January 6th, 2012 at 4:22pm JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Perhaps an X1 (APS-C sensor) …

original, French:
salient points, English:

… would make you|others happier?

The point of my post has nothing to do with the camera… just the English marketing. I’ve no interest in an X1, though I’m sure many will. —Jeffrey

— comment by parv on January 6th, 2012 at 8:22pm JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Tammy Faye Bakker died in 2007 from colon cancer. She was the most made-up woman in America and her husband was made up as well but not comparable to her. If the Nikon piece is made up that much it must be a heart-breaker as the cost is way more than some people pay for houses and cars. I see Eastman Kodak is filing for bankruptcy — who would have thought that? When I was in Japan in 1953-1956, Kodak came out with Triple-X black and white film. Very fast for its time. And, while there, they also came out with color film. So new that we had to send it to Honolulu to have it developed — a two week trip there and back. Nikon might be on top of the game today but what about ten years from now? Point and shoot has sold tons of cameras. DSLR and SLR cameras lost a lot of sales to them. I even got one and owned 3 Canon Cameras at the time. I am down to two now and some lenses. I used to own Nikon when its 35mm was bigger than Rolliflex and Voitlander, Sold it on a trip back to the states and have stuck with Canon ever since. Your photography is really special to me and almost enough to make me go out and buy a new Nikon. Your narratives are interesting to read too.

— comment by Abraham Lincoln on January 6th, 2012 at 9:11pm JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Wonder if words like sovereign could be because of an over-eager translator.

— comment by Daniel Sroka on January 6th, 2012 at 9:52pm JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

I thoroughly enjoyed your enthusiastic criticism (I share your disdain for insulting marketing-speak), but I actually disagree with your assertion that “Pixel size is 7.3µ,” sufficiently reflects all the useful information contained within that otherwise gunky mess of prose. Believe it or not, I actually acquired some knowledge from it. Specifically, I think I can reasonably infer three bits of information: 1) light-absorption is significantly affected by pixel size, 2) µ is the unit of measurement used to describe pixel size, and 3) 7.3µ is a pixel size worth mentioning. Your statement would negate #2 completely, and #3 partially (although maybe not if left so extremely bland). As for #1, it makes sense, but it’s not something that’s ever registered with me before, so I wouldn’t have drawn that connection on my own. (You are presumably more knowledgeable than I when it comes to that level of technical detail.)

Either way—still enjoyed the post! Btw, I shoot Pentax so I’ve got no dog in the hunt.

Cheers from Chicago,


— comment by Jason on January 6th, 2012 at 11:23pm JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

I don’t expect much from Nikon marketing – after all, they hired Ashton Kutcher to market their economy-level consumer models. I would, however love to own a D4 – but even if I had the money for the body, I’d have to buy a bunch of new lenses (I currently own a D300 and DX lenses).

Maybe you’ll score some big photography contract and get an equipment budget – one can dream! I doubt most pro photographers pay for any of their own equipment, which is why a top-level camera with lenses would cost more than my car, but I may be wrong.

I perhaps have no more insight than you, but I would expect that all pro level photographers pay for their own equipment (though such expenses would certainly be tax deductible). I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a camera manufacture “sponsoring” a pro photographer with free equipment, except recently Kirk Tuck mentioned that he was given an indefinite loan of a lens by Nikon. In any case, none of this applies to me…. photography for me is purely fun, not a job. And in any case, I would certainly accept a couple of free D4s from Nikon if they offered them. 😉 —Jeffrey

— comment by Mark on January 7th, 2012 at 1:50am JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Mark: I actually thought that the use of Ashton Kutcher was quite good on Nikon’s part. I don’t know how effective it was, really, but they’ve kept him on, so it must count for something. As an Olympus user, I was sort of hoping that Olympus would do something similar. (Actually, I was hoping that they would do anything at all – they’ve started to step up their marketing with the Pen cameras, but I feel that their marketing and market visibility has been incredibly weak overall… anecdotally, I was out birding and encountered a few shooters with some big, expensive setups from Canon and NIkon. They weren’t even aware that Olympus made digital SLRs!)

I guess we’re all critics 🙂

— comment by David K. on January 7th, 2012 at 2:24am JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

This excessive complimentary text seems to be fairly common in Japanese advertisements written in English. Many an American marketing group has learned to quietly sit on their hands after conversations with J-parent Company like this:
A Marketing Group: Can we say, "the low-light leader"? 
J Parent Company: Is our English incorrect?
A Marketing group: Well… no, technically you can say sovereign but its a little bit intense.
J Parent Company : Intense? Is it offensive?  Doesn’t sovereign mean the leader; the one in charge?
A Marketing Group: Yes, it does… but we would probably use the word leader.
J Parent Company:  Thank you so much, for the insight! We are ever so grateful for your insight!
J Parent Company to Ad Company!  Yes,  use SOVEREIGN, just like we had it written. Sore wa INTENSE desu yo!!
I’m not knocking the Japanese. I do the same thing with them: ‘What do you mean I can’t just call you onna!?  Of course it literally translates to woman, that’s why I said it. I don’t like josei  it sounds like Josey and the pussy cats to me…   What’s Josey and the pussey cats? Never mind, that.  I like onna!!   Hey onna!  Oide! Oide!
Every culture has a subtlety and sophistication and all outside cultures… just give them anything they’ll eat it up.  Add marketing teams/ad firms to this mix… It’s like adding buttered bread to a chicken salad sandwich with extra mayo! 
Superb digital online diary update, friend, Jeffrey.  Your rapier wit, provides each cognitive cell in my brain with sustenance and vigor. I patiently wait for your next sovereign post to excel like the previous one.

— comment by Ron Evans on January 7th, 2012 at 6:54am JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

“with a price in Japan close to US$8,000 and Santa not scheduled for another 11.5 months, it looks doubtful.”

Hey, why don’t you ask the Tooth Fairy? Worked for me once…

— comment by Marcina (Bellingham, WA) on January 7th, 2012 at 8:13am JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Sounds like the hype in my annual personnel reports. They’ve become over the years more about the most impressive adjective you can fit in vs the actual substance of the report. Though, like you, one can usually read between the lines with experience so you wonder what the point is. Who are they fooling?

— comment by JasonP on January 7th, 2012 at 12:13pm JST (12 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink
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