Monday, December 12, 2011

Clash of the PR Titans

Drama sells and it's been a week for it. Philip Bloom publicly announced he got rid of his Red Epic and cancelled his order for Scarlet on Twitter and the speculation started to flow like blood from a wound. 

When Philip got his Red Epic it actually hurt his status in the DSLR 'community'. Many started to call him a turncoat and sellout when it looked like he would be moving to another level with his work. For someone that makes his daily bread from an online following, sponsors, and workshops this can be a death knoll to a bank account. 

Philip seemed not gain any traction trying to market his business in the Red ecosystem . He found he had stepped into a realm of very accomplished, working Pros. The type of pros that don't just put up montages of clips on Vimeo for the followers of a blog. These are the type of pros that work in cinema and higher end projects. Very few, if any, would pay for a Philip Bloom workshop let alone click on his website. Having a Red Epic in his workshops was equal to having a 60 grand paperweight that looks pretty but makes him zero income without actually having to work at it. Phil's main gig is a blog and workshops geared to entry level shooters, second is shooting. Time for a rethink of the business model.

Shooting with a Beta Epic is at a technical level above being a 'one man band' something some are not used to. It's not a point and shoot camera. It requires very competent operators and support. Philip found out the hard way when his camera seemed to be dropping frames when it was recording during a shoot. Usually things like this are tested long before a shoot by a technician/rental house/DP in a controlled evaluation before going on set. Most large shoots have access to a backup camera or can get one in a few minutes, plus a technician on call to quickly resolve any issues that arise. Philip didn't seem to  have that luxury, and got caught by a bug that wasn't seen till post. Ouch! It's a different level of operating and when things go bad and don't get caught right away, they can really go bad. With the Beta nature of the Epic firmware at the time it was without playback in camera. That was a recipe destined for a disaster, regardless of the operator, in a small crew environment.

 Philip may have gotten a bad Red Epic, sadly. I think Red promptly got him a loaner while his was being tested/repaired. Unfortunately it seems he had issues with it as well. Getting a loaner from red and it being also 'broken' is highly unlikely but possible. I think the loaner was fine, his main issue was a software one, the always beta redcine-X with audio in R3D files. It was fixed within a day or two, but not fast enough for Philip to show something he wanted to show in a workshop. Again this comes back to a differing technical level, testing, and prep above what Philip can apply, for his gigs.

Reduser is not a nice place for many. For Philip it was a nightmare as many users ARE very harsh and protective of there ecosystem. Anyone could see that Philip's ego would be bruised as soon as he posted anything there. It's really the nature of the place. It's a very unusually moderated forum. Lots gets ignored by the people that run it till its blow up beyond being out of hand. Sadly it's some that run it that egg it on. Nuff said.

Having technical issues with his Epic may have been unlucky for him. Having an email pissing match with Jim Jannard was a godsend. How many would have purchased Philip's Epic second hand after all he posted about it being a lemon? How many clients read Philips tweets and blog, would they trust Philip with that camera if he showed up for a gig with it? It was a get out of Jail free card. Not that I don't believe JJ was not being a dick in email, but I have also talked to Phil in email. Let's just say Phil's public persona is totally differing from stuff he puts in an email. The two of them together I could see it going badly fast.  Phil's Epic and all third party accessories ended up being purchased back so Phil didn't lose a dime and got a lengthy free trial and error use of a very high end product. Did it stop there? No. Phil is now armed with all the ammo he needs for a blog.

Ironically, Philip's blog on the subject was a well done bit of PR. He gained sympathy from some of the people that he was losing face with in both camps. It pointed out Reds head honcho was a nut bag, (we all knew it) red still has growing pains with its flagship product, and Scarlet will actually amplify issues in public from sheer number of inexperienced users speaking vocally about them. (when they ship) Some of the blog was straight out of JJ,s playbook; Late night PR musings for attention that become the talk of the day. Only Phil didn't delete this one,  just moderated and kept  'we support you'  posts like reduser does to gain the sympathy vote. Brilliant bit of blogging, really. His hit counter made him a few bucks that day. Twitter went apeshit. Reduser admin/mods totally locked down/deleted Reduser and Dvxuser posts about the fiasco for hours till JJ fessed up. 

Who wins? Well both really.
 JJ unexpectedly got rid of some of the users that wanted the 3 grand Scarlet and became very belligerent of red when it never showed.

Philip may pick up those users in his workshops now. He retains the market of users he would have lost moving to that level. He made it very public that Red has issues and actually may gain some of that disenchanted crew that can't speak up as they are owners of Red products. Now he can buy the Canon C300 that his followers seem to be more interested in.

Great PR.

1 comment:

  1. It's a sad affair. Either way, most of the DSLR group still thinks they want 4k RAW .R3Ds and they have no clue what that actually entails for production and post.

    And as far as the workshops, I don't think a self-respecting DP would go to anyone's workshop.