If I were to ask you to think of cameras, what brands do you think of? Canon, Kodak, maybe Nikon? What kinds of images do you associate with them? In my mind, I tend to picture a man with a scarf who’s kneeling over, holding an expensive camera with a huge lens in his hand, trying to take the perfect picture of a cracked acorn on the sidewalk which somehow — he tells me in a slightly condescending tone — symbolizes the “hardships of life and the cyclical nature of our universe.” I actually bored myself as I wrote that sentence.
What I’m getting at here is that typically when I think about cameras, I don’t think of things that are exciting, fun, or extreme, but instead about things that are artsy, black and white, and boring. This is peculiar because there is a camera company that represents all of those attributes, yet never comes to mind when thinking of the product in a traditional sense: GoPro. Perhaps it is because they have done such an outstanding job of positioning themselves not as a camera company, but as a brand that provides excitement, fun, travel, and more to their customers.
Paul Crandall, Vice President of Marketing for GoPro, said in an interview, “…we’re not just a camera company anymore. We’re an adjoinment platform for people around the world to watch. It’s not about the GoPro camera anymore, but about GoPro in its entirety.” One way they've been able to make this leap from a simple camera company to a powerhouse brand is through fantastic content marketing. According to one source, “great content marketing requires a marriage between a company’s products and services, and the content that describes it.” GoPro has that in spades; their cameras literally create the content they are marketing.
In fact, that’s one of their strongest characteristics: the overwhelming majority of their advertisements come from user generated content. GoPro has a large presence on almost every social media platform, including Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube (who doesn't these days?). Their YouTube channel actually boasts an impressive 3.1 million subscribers alone, while Canon (one of the leading camera brands) has only 75 thousand! It also has over 2,700 videos in categories ranging from “moto,” “animals,” and “snow” to a “best of” page and even “staff picks.” It’s updated weekly with fresh content from users who upload GoPro created videos, so there is always something for everyone.
In the interview mentioned before, Paul Crandall also said, “…so many people in the world don’t have a camera…or won’t go out and do all of these things we see like skiing…but they like watching it, and that’s really meaningful to us.” This, I think, is one of the key components of success for GoPro. They know that not everyone in the world goes and does the things that are picked and showcased in their marketing content, but they realize that people love to watch it. The company has an army of brand ambassadors, ranging from professional athletes who can create amazing content for them (simply by being given a camera to wear), to your every-day guy who films his cats chasing a laser pointer. GoPro simply provides the tools and lets their users be the advertisers..
Their content isn't simply slow-mo surfing videos, either; they love to tell a story, and people love to watch them. One perfect example of this would be the video that shows a story of a fireman who saves a kittens life — all from his point of view. You watch as he enters the smokey house, dimly lit save for his flashlight, and there on the floor is a poor, lifeless kitten. The fireman picks it up (cue the heartwarming music), brings it outside, and resuscitates it, saving a life. It’s a beautiful, emotional, feel good story, all captured on camera — but not just any camera. Normally this would be a video that circulates online on its own with no real "value," but since it was all captured on a GoPro, it’s now also an ad for a camera. There’s also an outstanding opportunity here for real time marketing. If just one of the many videos made with a GoPro camera happens to go viral, all GoPro needs to do is slap their brand name at the beginning and enjoy the free marketing. Now that’s pretty brilliant.
I don’t own a GoPro camera, but that doesn't stop me from being a huge fan of the brand. They provide legitimately great content for people everywhere to watch, even if you aren't a professional skier or skydiver (and I am certainly not). However, if you would like to watch a professional skier do amazing tricks as they barrel down a mountain, GoPro lets you do that from their point of view. Anywhere their tiny, durable camera can go, a story can be created, and that’s really something fantastic to think about as an advertiser or a marketer. To be able to align your brand seamlessly alongside any video produced content simply because it was captured on a GoPro camera allows for enormous breadth in marketing content. There’s always something fresh, exciting, and shareable right around the corner. GoPro doesn't sell cameras, but the tools for people to make something fantastic and enjoyable for everyone.