CHALLENGE  As the smart phone market has expanded, consumers are using the cameras on those devices to take more and more photographs. Canon wanted to inspire people to aspire to more with their pictures.

CAMPAIGN IDEA  Freestyle teamed with Ron Howard, Canon, and Grey Advertising to launch Project Imagin8ion in 2011. Consumers were invited to submit photographs within eight story-related themes (e.g., mood, setting). A user-generated vote narrowed down almost 100,000 submissions by photographers of all skill levels before Oscar-winning director Ron Howard chose winners for each category. Bryce Dallas Howard, his daughter and accomplished writer/director/actor, would utilize the winning photographs as inspiration to create a short film.

RESULTS  The principals of Freestyle worked with Bryce and her writing partner to develop a short film screenplay. Freestyle then produced the twenty-minute short film and oversaw the creation of associated social media and PR elements.

The film “When You Find Me” was presented at a New York City premiere, played at the Sundance, SXSW, and Tribeca film festivals, and was included in the ten films shortlisted for the Academy Awards. Project Imagin8ion reached $8.4 million in earned media value, over a half a billion earned media impressions and total impressions nearing 3.5 billion. Canon’s market share spiked to an unprecedented 71.7%, and their industry-revolutionizing DSLR HD video secured a leadership position among the Hollywood A-list.

CHALLENGE  Our Project Imagin8ion photo contest, in partnership with Oscar-winning director Ron Howard and Grey Advertising, catapulted Canon ahead of Nikon to live in the #1 spot. We needed to keep up the momentum and maintain market position.

CAMPAIGN IDEA  With Project Imaginat10n, we expanded our original campaign and turned the photo contest into an entire film festival. We enlisted five celebrity first-time directors (Jamie Foxx, Eva Longoria, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Biz Stone co-founder of  Twitter, Georgina Chapman fashion designer of Marchesa) and five consumers to direct films under the auspices of Ron Howard, all inspired by imaginative photos.

RESULTS  Freestyle worked with the celebrity directors to develop five short film screenplays. Freestyle produced the resulting short films, two in Los Angeles, two in New York City, and one in Japan. Freestyle also provided consulting support to Canon and Grey as the coordinated the consumer film contest, ultimately helping to choose the five winning short films.

The ten films were presented at a New York City premiere and was supported through a massive YouTube campaign. Canon had the best November in its history, at the peak of the holiday season, and retained its #1 market share through 2013.