Spotting a great PR opportunity. China Airlines can. Canon can’t.

China Airlines can spot a great PR opportunity a mile away. In fact they can spot one 6,000 miles away. The same can’t be said for camera manufacturer Canon (and their hapless PR agency).


Let me tell you a story.


In August 2007 Lindsay Scallan was enjoying a diving holiday on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Lindsay had a great time. There was however one minor mishap – Lindsay lost her diving camera. Hey, these things happen. Lindsay thought no more about it.
Now fast forward to February 2013. China Airlines employee Douglas Cheng was strolling along a beach on Taiwan’s east coast when he spotted something in the sand. It was a barnacle-encrusted camera. And it was 6,000 miles away from where it had been lost.



Barnacle-encrusted camera

Barnacle-encrusted camera




6,000-mile journey

6,000-mile journey

Realising that it was a diving camera, Mr Cheng thought there might be a chance that the memory card inside was still working.


Camera memory card

Camera memory card


It was in perfect working order. Not only that, it contained photographs that could be used to track down the owner. The hunt was on.
At this point Mr Cheng’s employers, China Airlines, realised that they had a great PR opportunity on their hands. They decided to make the most of it.


The story was released to the press – it went viral. A Facebook page was set up to try and track down the owner.


Facebook page

Facebook page



Then broadcasters picked up on it. At which point is was surely just a matter of time before someone recognised the woman in the photographs. And sure enough, one of Lindsay’s friends did just that.





Not only did Lindsay get her camera back, she’s been offered an all-expenses paid holiday to Taiwan to pick up her camera, courtesy of China Airlines.
And what was Lindsay’s reaction to this? She was “…Blown away…”.
How’s that for a soundbite.
But where in this lovely story, I hear you ask, is Canon? Good question.


Canon has made a camera that survived a 6,000-mile, five-year underwater journey.


In other words, a PR story on a plate. A gift of an advertising campaign. And a real-life experiential opportunity that most brands would die for.
And what has Canon done with this once-in-a-brand’s-lifetime opportunity? As far as I can tell, zilch. Nada.
That’s a real let down for a brand that used to have one of my all-time favourite advertising slogans – “If anyone can, Canon can.”
Unfortunately, not in this case.


2 thoughts on “Spotting a great PR opportunity. China Airlines can. Canon can’t.

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