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Sony: When timing is everything...

Companies have to be sensitive to how bad it looks when they don't use their own products.

[UPDATE: See the wrapup to this discussion in this later post.]

Use a Nikon?

Or at least that appears to be the message.

I opened my copy of Outside Magazine's companion piece of fluff, Go, this morning and was greeted by an ad for Sony's A700 DSLR with the tagline "In Photography, Timing is Everything." The accompanying photograph was spectacular and showed a leopard about to dispatch a baboon. Dust is flying and, clearly, timing has a lot to do with the impact of this photo.

It was also very familiar.

In fact, it's a 1965 photograph taken by John Dominis for the late, lamented Life Magazine. You can see a version of the originally published photo at Getty Images. In the Sony ad photo, there are some slight differences in the position of the dust and the baboon's mouth but they're clearly part of the same sequence. Perhaps a quarter of a second separated them as Dominis' motor drive clicked away.

Sony ad for DSLR-A700. Sony

I certainly have no reason to believe that the photo isn't properly licensed and all that. And it is a great photo. (Which is why I recognized it.)

But companies have to be sensitive to how bad it looks when they don't use their own products. That's why Ford execs drive Fords rather than GMs. And HP folks deliver presentations to us on HP notebooks rather than Dells. In this case it's Sony that looks bad. I imagine Sony and their agency justified it to themselves by the fact that the newness of their single lens reflex line meant that they didn't have much in the way of stock photography on which to draw. Still, bad call.

In business, perception is everything.

(I don't know for an absolute fact that the photograph in question was taken with a Nikon, but it was almost certainly shot using an SLR with telephoto lens and was taken at a time when Nikons were the predominant pro SLR. Dominis also did, in fact, use Nikon gear for at least some of his photographs. In any case, Sony wouldn't have a camera line until many years in the future.)