Here’s a vintage camera ad from Nikon that doesn’t require rocket science for photographers to appreciate!
While commercials and advertisements that sell straight up do the job well enough, it’s always been the creative and disruptive ads that make a difference. So, for today’s dose of retro goodness, we thought about sharing one of those witty, vintage camera ads that we no longer see in today’s promotional materials. This one is especially a bonus for long-time Nikon users, especially those who may have started their photography journey with this film SLR camera!
As with the vintage camera ads we’ve been sharing of late, we spotted this 1987 print ad featuring Moe Howard of The Three Stooges and Albert Einstein on r/vintageads on Reddit. Research led us to The Three Stooges Scrapbook, which noted that it was part of a major ad campaign by Nikon for its newly launched Nikon F-401 (N4004 in North America) 35mm SLR. The print ad appeared in the biggest magazines, including Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Gentleman’s Quarterly, Smithsonian, and Travel & Leisure.
The need for wit was likely prompted by Nikon’s desire to market the N4004 as the ideal camera for beginners. According to Wikipedia, this autofocus 35mm SLR camera was among the company’s first forays into consumer-based autofocus cameras following the F-501, their first autofocus SLR released in 1986. The company promised that using the Nikon N4004 will be a breeze for anyone, from a “stooge” to a brilliant scientist. Whether this camera really delivered on that promise or not is another thing, but you’d have to admit the ad campaign was likely effective in getting the message across. It was even hailed “Best Ad of the Month” by the Gallagher Report in 1988.
Nikon F-401 Guide by Michael Huber cover image via Gilles Péris y Saborit on Flickr. Used with Creative Commons permission.