Amid all-male brand ambassadors backlash, Canon Philippines says it supports all cam enthusiasts regardless of gender

July 21, 2021 - 5:20 PM
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Image by Screen post via Unsplash

A popular camera maker stressed that it supports all camera enthusiasts and content creators regardless of their gender after being under fire for unveiling a roster of male-dominated brand ambassadors.

Responding to critics, Canon Philippines issued a statement saying it abides by its philosophy of “Kyosei,” “which is living and working together for the common good.”

Canon Marketing Philippines Inc., supports camera enthusiasts and content creators regardless of gender, culture, customs, language, or race,” it added.

 

The camera maker also said its brand ambassadorship is “continuously growing and always welcomes more members who are interested and committed.”

“Members are evaluated through their professional expertise and consistent brand support,” it said.  While it did not provide an apology, it stressed that it appreciated the feedback from the community,” Canon said.

“We appreciate learning from your voices in the community. We are listening. Our activities have just kick started and based on your valuable feedback, we will enhance your experience with us. Please continue sharing your opinions with us, so we can improve and grow better, with you,” it added.

Canon Philippines released its list of ambassadors on social media on July 19.

Prior to this, the brand had been introducing the new members of its brand ambassador program since July 14.

The Canon Brand Ambassadors 2021 are:

  1. Jun Miranda
  2. Wig Tysmans
  3. Edwin Martinez
  4. Jijo de Guzman
  5. Ian Celis
  6. Doc Marlon
  7. Jay Tablante
  8. Pat Dy
  9. Wesley Villarica
  10. Jilson Tiu
  11. Per-Andre Hoffman

‘Not inclusive at all?’

The male-dominated roster prompted calls for more diversity and inclusivity, particularly the recognition of women and non-binary photographers in the ambassadorship and in the field of photography in the Philippines.

Underneath Canon’s post, celebrity photographer BJ Pascual was among those who criticized the popular camera company, citing some “deeply misogynistic” comments he saw online.

“Not hating on any of the ambassadors (unless they support this lack of inclusivity) but grabe naman @canonphils, you had three days and this is what you came up with? Over the past few days I’ve seen some men reveal themselves to be so deeply misogynistic with their comments, posts and stories without even realizing it,” he said.

Screenshot of BJ Pascual’s comment captured on July 21, 2021

Pascual, who identifies himself as a member of the LGBT community, also pointed out that such an environment prevents talented female photographers to thrive in their craft.

“Hindi po ‘experience’ or ‘talent’ ang issue dito. How are women supposed to thrive in this profession if they are being silenced and exhausted by things such as this? How hard is it to LISTEN and reflect? 2021 na, the way you handled this situation is downright sad and disappointing,” he said.

Veteran photojournalist Joan Bondoc likewise lamented that women photographers were not given the recognition they deserved.

She then related the struggles they have to go through the male-dominated profession to get the job done.

“At kahit isang beses hinde tumutol sa assignment, walang gender sa coverage, umakyat ng bundok para mapitikan ang mga NPA, sumabay sa dispersal ng mga rally, na tear gas, lindol, araw-araw na krimen,” Bondoc said.

“Na-assign sa Malacañang, fashion, food pictorial, Congress, Senado, war on drugs at COVID. Ang magkahiwalay na mundo ng lipunan, ang kahirapan at silang mga pinagpala,” she added.

Award-winning photojournalist Ezra Acayan of Getty Images joined in the call for diversity and called out one of the ambassadors of the brand for saying women photographers should prove themselves.

“Not a single non-male photographer on this list. Canon Philippines would rather proceed with this failed campaign after being called out (hundreds of comments on their IG and FB) rather than acknowledging their mistakes and promising to do better next time,” Acayan commented.
“I’m also very disappointed at one of the photographers on this list who reacted by saying that women photographers should “prove themselves.” What a disaster. So ashamed to be shooting with Canon right now…,” he added.

‘Learn from the past’

In another Facebook post of the camera brand, Acayan said a similar backlash was experienced by another camera maker in 2017.

The exact same thing happened to Nikon Asia back in 2017, so you’d expect other brands to learn from their mistake,” Acayan wrote.

“I do hope my friends at Canon Philippines take sincere responsibility over this mess, and realize that your band-aid solution to introduce “lady shooters” just made things worse and reinforced the fact that none of you really take diversity seriously,” he added.

Acayan was referring to Japanese company Nikon which launched a campaign that featured 32 all-men brand ambassadors to promote one of its camera models in 2017.

BBC reported that social-media users asked the camera maker why no women were used as ambassadors.

“Nikon said female photographers had been invited to a meeting it had organized ahead of the campaign, but none had been able to attend,” the report read, adding that some photographers were “unappeased” by this statement.

In an interview with VICE News, non-binary photographer Pau Villanueva said that Canon’s campaign serves as a reminder of the state of photography in the country.

“Canon as a brand has a huge influence and impact, but I think they did not use their influence the right way. It affects the industry, especially the photographers who are just starting out,” Villanueva said.  —with Rosette Adel