When it comes to selling professional cameras in the age of the iPhone and generative AI, Fujifilm Middle East has taken a different tack with its new ‘Creator’ ambassador programme, recently launched across the region.
“The typical ambassador programmes of major photography technology brands often evolve more slowly than the demographics and social fabric of the markets in which they exist, or the technology they are intended to showcase,” says Richard Lackey, Marketing Manager of Fujifilm Middle East’s Electronic Imaging division.
It has a long-established global ‘X-Photographer’ ambassador programme but needed a clear path to engage up-and-coming artists, while opening the doors to content creators, videographers and filmmakers using its technology.
A Fujifilm Creator ambassador programme already exists in the US but is a first for the brand in the Middle East, and will expand further into Africa later this year. It launched with 15 artists from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
“These programmes are the human face of the brand in the region, they exist to connect with our customers and fans in a real and meaningful way. They should represent the full spectrum of diverse, energetic, passionate artists that are changing the landscape of the region with the stories they want to tell,” adds Lackey.
A large-scale ambassador programme is difficult to change quickly, so rather than move fast and risk breaking things, a different strategy was required. “We decided the best way to change this was not to rip it all apart and start again, but to add some new faces and improve accessibility. The result is a pipeline of talent that will automatically bring about this greater change over time”.
Its tongue-in-cheek tagline ‘Artists not Influencers’ is a deliberate push back against associating the Creator programme with commercial professional influencers. The aim is to embrace creatives who create art and tell meaningful stories through their work regardless of their follower count.
“We’re really not interested in associating with anything that can be considered insincere or manipulative, and content made by influencers for hire is not the best way to build trust in our brand.” Instead, the first fifteen creators were chosen for the quality and consistency of their work, and their unique voice in their own creative community.
“We don’t want to approach the people we work with transactionally. We have to approach them as friends, and partners in their own creative and professional endeavors. We have to offer respect, and add value in some meaningful way.”
Fujifilm has found that most of the creatives who seek them out have the same kind of philosophy. “If you’re looking for a transactional brand deal, you’ll probably be disappointed, but if you’re creating great work, putting yourself out there, and are enthusiastic about our cameras, we want to know you.”