Olympus Digital Cameras deal with Bad Photos

In June 2005 Olympus Europe launched a television campaign designed to make their digital cameras the talking point of living rooms. Despite negative reactions to the dark humour presented in the ads, the campaign was awarded a Gold Lion at Cannes. Red-eyed Baby, Distorted Dogs, Cut Off Tourists, each are available to view online and point to Olympus products.

Olympus Distorted Dogs

In “Red-Eyed Baby” Dad unlocks the door of his apartment and lets himself in, hesitantly saying, “I’m home”. Mum’s eating dinner in the kitchen. “I’m here.” Suspenseful music builds as Dad walks down the corridor and turns the light on. There’s a baby sitting on the floor. Dad’s disturbed. And now we see why. The baby has red eyes – the kind you get with a misused camera flash. Dad backs out of the living room and confronts his wife in the kitchen. “I told ya. That freaks me out. I don’t want it in here. Can you get rid of it?” With a sigh Mum walks over, picks up the baby and puts it in the cupboard. The text, “Would you save or delete a red-eyed baby? What you choose to remember.” www.redeyedbaby.com was online for a week before being withdrawn because of negative reactions.

Click on the image below to play the Red Eyed Baby video.

In “Distorted Dogs” Moira’s sitting at the dining room table, pouring her heart out over a cup of tea. “He’s off with her now. What? What is that” The camera zooms to a dog with a nose enlarged out of proportion. “I don’t know how you can have that thing in here.” Rachel’s drying dishes in the kitchen. “What? They’re beautiful.” Moira looks through to living room to see two more distorted dogs. “You have more – Rachel I’m worried. I really am worried.” Rachel replies, “Moira. It really is going to be alright. It’s all in your head.” The text “Would you save or delete distorted dogs? What you choose to remember.” The microsite points viwers to the Olympus Mju Mini Digital S camera, with 5 megapixels, 2X Optical zoom.

Click on the image below to play the Distorted Dogs video.

In “Blurry Boy” a young woman’s mother calls in after shopping. “Hi!”. The door shuts. “What’s up Ma?” The mother looks into the lounge and sees a blurry boy standing there reading a book. “What’s he still doing here? You could do so much better.” “He reminds me of happy times OK.” “Happy times? You know 35 years ago I made the same mistake. Your father was as bad a loser as he is.” “Whatever.” “You know what? Wake up and smell the coffee, honey. You know I bought you a pair of earrings. I think you’re going to like them.” The text: Would you save or delete a blurry boy?” The 45 second ad is available to view online at blurryboy.com. The site points viewers to the benefits of the Olympus digital camera the Olympus FE-5500.

Olympus Would You Delete This Blurry Boy?

From the microsite: “Blurry boys live on dusty mantelpieces in ex-girlfriends’ houses. They are part of the Out-of-focus family but are distinguished by their extremely fuzzy features and a heightened state of blurriness. To Mums, Blurry boys are a sad waster of space whereas ex-girlfriends often can’t let go of these happy memories. Well, if that’s what they choose to remember…

Click on the image below to play the video.

In “Cropped Tourists” there’s a loud knock at the apartment door. A man walks over to open the door. “Hey!” a voice rings out. He looks through the security peephole. He backs away. “Mrs Harland. Stop following me. Go home.” Out in the landing an older couple stand, with the tops of their heads cropped off. “You promised to mail us that photo from the Eiffel Tower.” “Mrs Harland. You don’t belong here. Go away.” “We’re not going anywhere.”“Mrs Harland, go home!” “Give me that photo!” “I can’t! Go away!” The resident climbs into his bed and pulls the sheet over his head. “Hey! Are you in there? We’re out here and we’re not leaving! Hey!” The text: “Would you delete or email cropped tourists?” The 45 second ad, hosted online at www.croppedtourists.com, directs viewers to the Olympus C-7070 WideZoom digital camera.

Cropped Tourists in Olympic TV Ad

From the microsite: “Cropped Tourists are common but have an usually short lifespan. Easy to identify from their cropped heads (or, in some cases, legs), they occur when well-meaning holidaymeakers take rushed photos of complete strangers. For some people, they are a funny memory but to mot they are a disturbing holiday souvenir. Whatever you choose to remember about Cropped tourists, it’s up to you. See also: Random stranger in background”.

Click on the image below to play the video.

The UK Post article on the campaign, focusing on the effects work at The Mill, mentions a fifth commercial. “Multiple copies of a dishevelled man wearing a rather ill-judged red bra turn up on his doorstep.”


The campaign was developed at Springer & Jacoby, Amsterdam whose team included Aris Theophilakis, Murray White, Sharon Cleary, Chris Pugmire and Ronald Milton.

Filming was shot by director Noam Murro via Biscuit Filmworks, Los Angeles, working with director of photography Ellen Kuras, and Hamburg film production company Tony Petersen Film producers Mandy Kothe and Holly Vega.

Special effects were developed at The Mill, London, by CG animators Jonathan Wesley and Ivor Griffin, and colourists Adam Scott and Paul Harrison.

Editors were Russel Icke and Sam Gunn at The Whitehouse Post in London.

Sound was designed by Alex Nicholls-Lee at Scramble, London. Music was arranged, composed and performed by Sander van Maarschalkerweerd with Glyn Owen and Jonathan Ware at Amsterdam music production company, Sizzer.

Olympus Red Eyed Baby

There is some debate about the impact of the campaign as a whole. The ‘Red-eyed baby’ tv commercial came across as a warning against child abuse more than as an advertisement for digital cameras. Some commentators suggest that the music was so much on the sinister side that the humour was lost.

I can say personally that having watched the ads has influenced my photography habits. I am less content with blurry images, red eyes, out of proportion hands and feet and truncated people. I’ve bought myself a better camera and take more care in the planning of shots. I’m also less sentimental about keeping bad photos.