Canon Pushes ‘Boundaries’ in This Gorgeously Lit Commercial Aimed at Younger Viewers

A plea to 'Live for the Story'

Can Canon convince a generation reared on smartphone photography to put its cameras in the picture?

“Live for the Story,” the brand’s first big Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) campaign from VCCP London, begins with “Boundaries,” an impressive 60-second spot that follows a spunky lad as he grows into a high-spirited young man determined to enjoy each day to the fullest:

Yeah, it’s cool to chase horses in the middle of the night. (Did the dude spook them by using a flash camera? That would explain the long faces.)

“You have to take an active role and put yourself in a place where great stories can happen,” VCCP senior creative Seb Housden tells Adweek. “The places you haven’t been, the people you haven’t met—they aren’t part of your world until you’re willing to go out there and find them. The concept of illuminating these stories around you stems from this belief that great stories happen when you push your boundaries.”

A Canon camera appears just once, briefly, on the car’s dashboard as our hero and his pals speed off toward new adventures.

Ultimately, the ad succeeds as an intriguing, sumptuously shot brand manifesto, sharply focused on the deeper significance of photography in people’s lives. Though the specific rationale for choosing Canon over some other line seems rather blurry. Perhaps this aspect will emerge as the campaign continues to develop.

“The whole point  is to get people to reassess Canon, to think differently about a brand they have either known of old, or have never come across before,” says client senior campaign manager Steve Marsh. “It inspires people to go out there and tell their story, and the boundaries you create are the ones you make yourself.”

Directors Charles Brisgand and Léo Berne, members of the four-person filmmaking collective known as Megaforce, create an atmosphere of freedom and discovery, while Mikey Mike’s anthemic track “Doin’ Me” propels the images with an appropriate sense of urgency.

Most impressive, perhaps, is the lighting—notably, the canny manipulation of light and dark, especially during the sequence where the dude bikes down the street, and details like houses, cars and people suddenly snap into view from the shadows.

“Huge lighting rigs were used and turned on manually to sync with the movement of the actors,” says VCCP’s Ben McCarthy, who partnered with Housden to develop the spot. “This meant shooting at dusk, which was a very small timeframe, but allowed us to have more control. It also meant there wasn’t much room for things to go wrong—and it was definitely not ideal when working with children and animals like horses, especially when they decide to make a bee-line for the client tent. The horses, that is, not the children.”

For added exposure, Canon cast actress Zoe Kravitz in its “365 Days of Summer” contest, encouraging viewers to share seasonal tales for the chance to win a year-long trip around the world.

Client: Canon
Spot: “Boundaries”
Creative Agency – VCCP
ECD – Darren Bailes
Creatives – Ben McCarthy / Seb Housden
Account Handling – Emma Whitmarsh / Olivia Packshaw
Producer – Ed Mueller
Director – Megaforce
Film Production – Riff Raff Films
Producer – Jane Lloyd
Executive Producer – Matthew Fone
Cinematography – Kasper Tuxen
Editor – Joe Guest @ Final Cut
VFX – The Mill
VFX Supervisor / 2D Lead – Ben Turner
VFX Supervisor / 3D Lead – Francois Roisin
Colourist – Mick Vincent
Producer – Gemma Humphries
Sound Mix – Ben Leeves @ Grand Central Recording Studios
Music Licensing – Finger Music
Song – Mikey Mike – Doin’ Me

365 Days of Summer Film (Zoe):
Creative Agency – VCCP
Creatives – Sara Soares & Maria Leiria
Account Handling – Harriet Guppy
Activation Handling – Laura Di Simone
Producer – Charlotte Trotman
Integrated Producer – Kirk Mechen
Director – Duncan Winecoff @ All Expanded
Film Production – All Expanded
Producer – Emi Stewart
Cinematography – Stuart Winecoff
Editor – Leila Saraff & Trim
2nd Editor – Rob Brandon @ VCCP
Colourist – Denny Cooper @ Rushes
Sound Mix – Culum Simpson @ Grand Central Recording Studios
Music Licensing – David Bass @ Theodore

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: May 22, 2017 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT