Canon takes APPA bat, goes home

(UPDATED, Feb 10) One of the photo industry’s longest-running rumours, the cessation of the 13-year association of Canon Australia with the Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPAs) has finally been confirmed by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) in an email to members from national president, Ross Eason.

petermyersEssentially, according to the AIPP, Canon was unhappy with the decision taken by the AIPP last June to combine the APPAs and the popular ‘Nikon Event’ conference and mini-trade show.

‘We did that very specifically to make it easier for the members to attend both of these fantastic events,’ AIPP executive officer Peter Myers (right) told ProCounter. ‘And we knew that as a consequence of that it may be that Canon would be unhappy with their brand being associated with an event where other competing brands would be associated.

‘So they asked us, quite rightly, to give them an outline and format of what this new thing would look like before they were in a position where they’d want to talk to us about renewing the contract at the end of 2015. Our deadline to give them that information was at the end of September 2015, which we did. And their deadline to come back to us with a new proposal was at the end of November 2015, and their new proposal came in mid-December.’

Canon, on the other hand, put its decision down to a disagreement on the proportion of its sponsorship money going to APPA entrants and winners: ‘Importantly, we have been determined to see as much of our sponsorship dollars as possible used to support the entrants and winners directly,’ wrote Canon Consumer Imaging director, Jason McLean. ‘Over recent years, though, this has been an increasing challenge as a result of the investment decisions and changing priorities of the AIPP administration.

‘These differences of opinion between us have limited our ability to provide the help that “professional” photographers were telling us they needed through the Major Sponsorship.’

Rumours were rife as far back as The Digital Show in Melbourne last spring that Canon was intending to drop AIPP and the APPAs.

In fact, it appears the relationship with the AIPP had been showing signs of wear and tear for several years.

‘We had a routine of three-year contracts with Canon, so once every three years the contract would be renewed,’ Peter Myers explained. ‘But the last three-year contract expired in 2013 and because we couldn’t agree on the terms of a new three-year contract we actually had one-year contracts for 2014 and 2015.

‘We’ve known for the best part of two and a half years that there may well be circumstances where we simply couldn’t agree to move forward, so we’ve been planning for this eventuality for some time.’

– It appears from Ross Eason’s email to members that, after a long and mutually rewarding relationship with the AIPP, Canon did not conclude that relationship as agreed: ‘We would also like to apologise to our members for not announcing the end of this relationship in a more coordinated and structured fashion,’ he wrote. ‘We believe we had agreed with Canon for the need for a joint communication that respected both parties’ views.

‘As part of that belief we agreed to delay the publication of (the AIPP’s regular newsletter) The Working Pro to allow time for Canon to refine the draft we had send to them. We were unaware they had changed their position.’

What in fact happened was that Canon put an announcement on its website last Friday afternoon over the signature of Canon Consumer Imaging director, Jason McLean, and sent it ‘directly to our pro community via Twitter, Facebook and email,’ according to a Canon spokesperson. (See text below.) This seems to have taken the AIPP by surprise. ‘This was not a media announcement and no press release was sent,’ Canon added. (Although it was in the Press Release section of the Canon website.)

Canon flagged a more go-it-alone approach to engaging with professional photographers in future. ‘We are preparing to announce ‘pro community’ events and enablement grants to help professional photographers directly,’ wrote Jason McLean.

John Ansell won the 2015 AIPP Professional Photographer of the Year. Here's one of his winning photos. Photo: John Ansell. Source: Supplied.

Portrait photographer John Ansell won the 2015 AIPP Professional Photographer of the Year. Here’s one of his winning photos. Photo: John Ansell. Source: Supplied.

Future APPA sponsorship
When asked about a likely replacement sponsor, Peter Myers said the AIPP was ‘always looking for new trade partners that can add value to what we do.’

‘Whether that is a single sponsor or a group of sponsors depends on the conversations we have with the potential partners we’re talking to. I know that sounds evasive and I’m not trying to be evasive but we don’t have a definitive answer to that at this point in time.

‘…There are several organisations who have contacted us over the years about a greater involvement in the AIPP APPAs, and have been unable to do so because of the preclusion that Canon’s sponsorship had. So we’re now in a position to talk to those people.

‘Canon always, like anybody would, wanted a competitive advantage from their sponsorship. With that block out of the way it gives us opportunity to talk to different people,’ Peter Myers concluded.

Canon-Appa-letter

The Canon letter announcing the end of the major sponsorship was not what the AIPP expected.

Ross Eason’s e-mail to AIPP members:
It is never easy, bringing to an end a long term relationship and we know from the length of time it took, it was a difficult decision for Canon to terminate their sponsorship of the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPA).
We would also like to apologise to our members for not announcing the end of this relationship in a more coordinated and structured fashion. We believe we had agreed with Canon for the need for a joint communication that respected both parties views. As part of that belief we agreed to delay the publication of The Working Pro to allow time for Canon to refine the draft we had send to them. We were unaware they had changed their position.
The AIPP APPA remains one of the most important events in the AIPP calendar. With a 36-year history it remains the pre-eminent awards system for Professionals in Australia, and together with the AIPP Epson State Photography Awards, forms the cornerstone of our philosophy of helping to raise the standard of professional image making in Australia through a structured peer review awards system.
We are more confident than ever that APPA will continue to evolve and go from strength to strength with the ever growing involvement of our members and the continuing support of our committed trade partners.

What does this mean for our members?
· This certainly means a new and exciting paradigm, where APPA, The Nikon AIPP Event and the new format trade show all combine to deliver, inspiration, knowledge, choice and opportunity for professional image makers.
· It also means we have the potential to work with new trade partners with the associated benefits they could offer.
· ​We can also now manage our own publicity & PR for APPA for the benefit of entrants and Category winners.

We look forward to working on this, and other initiatives, with our many trade partners, new and old, all of whom believe, like us, in the philosophy of working together for the benefit of the professional image making community in Australia.


7 thoughts on “Canon takes APPA bat, goes home

  1. I don’t rate Canon highly as a leader in the photo industry – it competes aggressively with its customers via heavy promotion and discounts on its online store, as well as Sun Studios; its non-participation in The Digital Show threatens that event’s ongoing existence; it seems to be progressively detaching itself from engagement with the broader photo community (witness the letter above from Canon boss, Jason McLean); it has dropped the ball in product innovation; and it contributes negligible tax in Australia: http://www.photocounter.com.au/2016/canon-nikon-named-as-tax-free-in-2014/ BUT, it was never going to be happy having its marquee sponsorship in the professional photography segment positioned under the umbrella of The Nikon Event – sponsored by its fiercest competitor! Either the AIPP doesn’t understand the dynamics of competition, or it thought that Canon thought the APPAs were too valuable to walk away from; or it was simply glad to get shot of a micro-managing corporate partner. Or something! But there’s no way Canon or any company in an effective duopoly was going to countenance the kind of arrangement the AIPP seems to have envisaged.

    • Hi Keith, you are absolutely right, it seems the current AIPP board and their Exec officer seem to have no idea of commercial reality. Either that, or it was a well orchestrated way of disposing of an awkward partner. Many in the Industry never wanted the arrangement to happen in the way that it did 13 years ago because of the exclusivity and exclusion policy to others who were always Industry minded. Perhaps now they may get an opportunity to fix that and include all.

  2. Keith, this day has always been coming for a long time and now it’s here. Many of us involved in the AIPP years ago tried to stop the Australian Professional Photography awards, which had overall industry sponsorship including both Canon and Maxwells (Nikon agents at the time) being sold to any one sponsor. Now we will see if the industry as a whole will fill the gap left by Canon who have moved on. One hopes so. Perhaps the AIPP will see putting too many eggs in one basket is not a wise long term move. AIPP members rightly should be asking where the Canon money went, they used to get a wonderful book which sadly is no longer published as part of the membership fees ending a long term record of Professional Photography in our country, clearly Canon has issues with how its sponsorship was spent, so should members of the Institute.

    • Agreed, they don’t care, a brilliant product but even back to the 80’s Canon had a huge ego with their management . AIPP are better off without them, is it the actual winning or the cash that is all important? There’s always Ilford, Epson, kodak to fill the void, who knows?

  3. The APPA’s is a joke and AIPP are a toothless tiger that don’t support photographers any real way, like have a fund to cover if bad photographers leave customers in the lurch or have a lobby group, to put political pressure to defend photographers rights. They pat each other on the back and blow smoke up each others behind. A AIPP membership is like having a CPS membership. Not worth the paper it is printed on.

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