Okay, Props Where Props are Deserved

Nikon's introduction of the Z9 this morning was about the best marketing I've seen out of Nikon. Certainly in recent years. Very nicely done. A few comments are necessary to point out the things they did right:

  • The teaser campaign was just that: teaser. I'm not sure everyone got the metaphor in the final last minute teaser, but in the first three 30-second videos Nikon revealed just enough information to intrigue, while leaving things to still be found out at launch. The 20 fps in the teaser turns out to be "no limitations," but there's 30 fps (JPEG only) and 120 fps (11mp only) options if you really need insane speeds.
  • Storytelling abounds in the launch videos. Storytelling is most powerful form of marketing, and I don't know if it was entirely by choice (McNally is a natural story-teller), but the selected pre-production users pretty much all told stories. Even Nikon's own marketing spiels tended towards story telling rather than specifications. I suspect specification-concentration comes next, because it answers specific questions that might come up.
  • The launch videos were themselves almost a story: the various sub-video elements were all woven together very nicely, not devolving into boring talking heads for very long, and moving from benefit to benefit very nicely. This was NikonUSA's launch—Nikon puts the lead in different subsidiary/regions for each big announcement—and this was the best I've seen them.
  • Nikon took some subtle swipes, comparing a few capabilities to "competitors" directly (see above), without mentioning who they were. Very Japanese passive aggressive, but still nicely done. 
  • Nikon didn't dead end into an endless discussion of "newness", leaving many things to be still discovered and to be marketed in subsequent sessions. Marketing emphasis was exactly where it should be: a complete, pro, do-anything camera with unique capabilities, not on a specific feature.

There's a lot we still need to learn about the Z9—remember I already write 1000+ page books on these cameras—but that's okay in a launch presentation. Nikon did an almost perfect tease and launch. Now they have a lot of details to fill in, and I'm hoping they do it as well as they've done everything else so far. Fingers crossed.

Amazingly, Nikon is letting people discover one critical aspect of the new camera for themselves: price. US$5500 is well below where most people thought this camera was going to be priced. US$5500 turns out to be a "delightful surprise" as people pick up on just how capable the new Z9 actually is. I already know several Nikon DSLR pros who weren't planning to pick up a Z9 that changed their mind, and it's the coupling of capability with price that did that. I'm pretty sure the Z9 will be sold out for quite some time.

So, as harsh as I've been on Nikon's marketing recently, I'll give credit where it's due: great job so far on the Z9 launch. Keep it up.

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And yes, the engineering team needs some kudos, too. But that's a story for another day.

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