Canon Turns to 'Rebel' Nik Wallenda in Latest Campaign

Wire Walker Helps Fulfill Bucket Lists; Push Will Also Include Swizz Beatz

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Canon's iconic "Image Is Everything" campaign introduced the company's first Rebel SLR camera in a video that included Andre Agassi, a pair of black sunglasses and a white Lamborghini.

Twenty-five years later, Canon is still promoting that same camera: The popular EOS Rebel series, which is aimed at entry-level and aspiring photographers. But this time it's focusing more on experiences than image.

Canon's latest brand push, debuting today, brings daredevil wire walker Nik Wallenda to a senior center in Sarasota, Fla., where he helps them realize dreams on their bucket list. The campaign, dubbed "Rebel With A Cause," centers around six different "rebels" who all have a message they want to share. In Mr. Wallenda's case, it's getting people to check off whatever is at the top of their bucket list.

That may not sound as exciting as say, Mr. Wallenda wire walking across the Grand Canyon with no safety net, but it does include video of 88-year-old Channing Chapman, a former infantryman for the Army who's never flown a plane before, barrel roll through the sky in a T6 Texan.

The online-only campaign was shot using the Rebel T6i, a camera that retails for about $800. "If you ask a lot of other brands what products they use to capture their video, they would say a higher end camera," said Michelle Fernandez, marketing director at Canon USA. "I think by showing consumers that this is what they too can capture is a great way for us to connect with them to go out there and capture content."

Grey, New York, produced the videos and said famed record producer Swizz Beatz will make an appearance in "Rebel With a Cause" next. Stu Mair, creative director at Grey, said YouTube and Vine celebrities will likely also make appearances in upcoming spots.

While the entire commercial was shot using a Rebel camera, about nine different lenses were used in the shoot. "These days you see a lot of smartphone technology commercials like, 'Shot on the iPhone,' and it's a smart thing to do because it's proof in the pudding," Mr. Mair said. "But, there are limitations to a smartphone that do not exist with the Rebel. I think we wanted to reinvent the Rebel in a way to make people realize the power of the DSLR that they haven't given a chance or thought about."

About 2.5 million DSLR cameras will be sold in 2015 and that number is expected to remain flat next year, said Christopher Chute, VP-research at International Data Corp. Canon has the largest market share of about 45%.

Some key features regarding entry level DSLR cameras like the Rebel include the ability to take clear pictures in low light and capturing multiple frames per second, Mr. Chute said. "That rapid-fire shutter sound is what has been getting buyers into stores for 30 years," he said. "If you also think about young families, they have kids running around all over the place, and giving them the ability to quickly take as many pictures as they possibly can, is also something that has also been driving the DSLR market since 2004."

Mr. Chute said the proliferation of smartphone cameras has taken more share from point-and-shoots than DSLRs. He noted that about 6 million cameras -- whether point-and-shoot or DSLR -- are expected to be sold in 2016.

Canon spent some $49 million in U.S. measured spending last year, according to Kantar Media.

"The trick all the camera vendors are doing, including Canon, is turning consumers into aspiring photographers," Mr. Chute said. "Once you become engaged with photography you are hooked."

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