Amazon Snags Major Canon Job

Amazon Ad vertising has been tapped to handle creative duties for Canon’s corporate image campaign without a review, sources said.

The client, based in Tokyo and with U.S. headquarters in Lake Success, N.Y., is due to break an estimated $10-15 million national TV and print campaign this summer, according to sources. It is the latest and biggest Canon assignment for Amazon, a 20-person San Francisco shop, which has quietly worked on a number of Canon projects in conjunction with the client’s lead U.S. agency, DCA Advertising, New York. (DCA’s parent, Dentsu, is Canon’s global shop.)

Sources said the relationship began when a mutual acquaintance introduced Amazon to DCA in the mid-’90s during a time when DCA was having trouble selling its creative work to the client. Amazon first helped out on a color copier campaign, and then DCA and Canon hired the shop for creative duties on two other brand-focused efforts. This latest win brings Amazon its fourth Canon assignment, sources said.

Amazon officials referred questions about Canon to DCA executives, who were not available at press time.

Amazon principal Millie Olson acknowledged that the shop handles creative and strategic chores for a variety of global clients that use large international agencies. The shop is working on undisclosed projects for Procter & Gamble and Citibank, for example. Previously it crafted ads for a P&G feminine product in Latin America and online banking services for Citibank in California.

“We see ourselves as an official mistress to the Fortune 100,” Olson said. “We are at our best with larger, more sophisticated clients, and are respectful of their relationships with their main agencies.”

Such clients form the bulk of the shop’s $30-35 million in billings.

“We enjoyed our dot-com year like everyone else, and now are focusing harder on large national and even global clients,” said Olson.

It is not unusual for small creative shops to mine for peripheral projects on high-profile brands while the clients’ lead agencies are busy with major campaigns. What surprises industry observers is Amazon is snagging jobs, like Canon’s corporate work, that are central to the core brand.

When the shop was founded in 1996, it positioned itself as an expert on women-oriented products and marketing initiatives. Over time it has largely dropped that identity.