Nikon Kick Starts Campaign via Tweet

Nikon is taking a cue from the popularity of Twitter by using the microblogging service as a launchpad for a new promotion.
Yesterday, actor Ashton Kutcher kicked off the campaign by tweeting his involvement in the Nikon Film Festival, a user-generated content contest for people to submit “a day through your lens” video for the chance to win $100,000. Kutcher, who has 3.9 million followers on the service, posted a link to his own submission, a short film documenting a day he spent in Africa with his actress-wife Demi Moore.
“Check out my short film documenting a recent trip to Africa. Let me know what you think,” Kutcher wrote.

The campaign, which promotes the Nikon D5000, is taking more cues from Twitter by requiring users to keep their submissions to 140 seconds.
“I wanted them to reflect the brevity of Twitter and show their personal point of view,” said Faris Yakob, chief technology strategist at McCann Erickson, New York, which created the campaign. “It should make it as applicable to Ashton Kutcher or anyone else.”
Nikon hopes to differentiate itself in the crowded camera market by emphasizing its camera’s ability to shoot high-quality still images and video. The contest will judge entries based on their picture quality and creativity.
In addition to Kutcher, Nikon is enlisting other celebrities in the effort, including actor Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight Schrute on The Office, photographer Chase Jarvis and YouTube star Justine Ezarik. All three have also produced videos, shot with Nikon cameras, for the film festival.
Ezarik, who has over 900,000 followers on Twitter, promoted the contest through a tweet today. Wilson directed his 1.6 million followers to it. Jarvis followed suit to his 21,000 followers.
The Federal Trade Commission recently released guidelines for product endorsements through social media. Yakob said the rules don’t apply to promoting involvement in this type of contest.
“It’s not about a product,” he said. “It’s about people making these films.”
Nikon is following up the social media splash with a more traditional ad campaign that includes a 30-second spot starring Kutcher and print and banner ads promoting the contest.
The Nikon Film Festival Web site incorporates social elements, allowing visitors to comment on videos and showing tweets related to the contest.
The audience and a panel of celebrities will award winners based on image quality and originality. Users are not required to use Nikon cameras for their entries. The audience-choice winner gets $25,000; the judges’ panel winner gets $100,000. Nikon will narrow down submissions to 50 finalists in December. They’ll be encouraged to use social media tools to drum up support for their entries ahead of determining the winners in mid-January, Yakob said. The content produced could find its way into future Nikon ads, he added.
“Part of the role of the brand today is to celebrate its customers, the people who take the time to do stuff for them,” he said.