Pentax ‘Anti-Commercial’ Doesn’t Show the Camera Once, Is Incredibly Compelling

If you’re commissioned to make an ad for a major camera company, might we make a small suggestion? Don’t show any cameras. It might seem like a stupid idea on the surface, but when you consider the effectiveness of the Canon ad we shared a couple of weeks ago and this Pentax ad we’re sharing today, you might just agree with us.

The ad above, dubbed ABROAD, was shot back in 2012 by filmmakers John Lynch (the gentleman you see throughout the film) and Darrin Roberts (who did the editing). Its creators have called it an “anti-commercial,” and it’s the perfect description because, while it is an ad for the Pentax K-5, you don’t actually see the camera even once.

The camera is identified as the tool with which this compelling story is shot — no more and no less — and yet the short doc does more to recommend Pentax as a brand than any stat-toting, actual commercial could.

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 7.50.10 AM

Lynch shares some thoughts about the film in a behind the scenes article published on the Korduroy Blog back when the video first debuted:

A commercial is flat out selling and branding to you. In ABROAD, I kept the film as non logo-centric as possible. I had Alex flip his shirt inside out a few times. It’s a documentary film, and even though you can claim Fair Use, we wanted to stay clear of brands and branding in general in order to keep the story at the forefront, not the apparel or the gear of other companies.

PENTAX was willing to give us full creative freedom to tell whatever story we thought was most important and would fit. The implication is that this camera can shoot a documentary — just like a Canon or a Nikon — not necessarily selling a particular camera.

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 7.52.14 AM

We won’t go into any more detail than that, and instead recommend that you click play at the top and then head over to the Korduroy Blog and/or the Vimeo comments to learn a lot more about the project. Anything not answered in the Korduroy piece is likely addressed in the comments, so don’t miss out on that opportunity.

(via Reddit)

  • Help goat

    Which camera was it?

  • Matt Mikulla

    If he’s traveling solo without a crew who is filming him?

  • DLCade

    He’s not the long-haired guy, he’s the one behind the camera in those scenes. When he’s actually in the shot, it looks like he’s holding his own camera.

  • David

    Not always DL, especially near the end of the video. Perhaps he put the camera into the hands of a local.

  • Glenn Brath

    so it means that the k5 is an underwater camera?

  • Alexnb

    The commercial was more condescending than compelling though

  • Roberto Inetti

    4:36, that’s my record.

  • Display_Name

    Is this Avatar or Dances with Wolves?

  • DLCade

    Good point David! Somehow missed that. Yeah, I would bet he handed the camera to a friend or local.

  • Andy

    I assume they shot it with a RED camera?

  • Guest

    Take up the White Man’s burden, Send forth the best ye breed
    Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives’ need;
    To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild–
    Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.

    Take up the White Man’s burden, In patience to abide,
    To veil the threat of terror And check the show of pride;
    By open speech and simple, An hundred times made plain
    To seek another’s profit, And work another’s gain.

    Take up the White Man’s burden, The savage wars of peace–
    Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease;
    And when your goal is nearest The end for others sought,
    Watch sloth and heathen Folly Bring all your hopes to nought.

    Take up the White Man’s burden, No tawdry rule of kings,
    But toil of serf and sweeper, The tale of common things.
    The ports ye shall not enter, The roads ye shall not tread,
    Go make them with your living, And mark them with your dead.

    Take up the White Man’s burden And reap his old reward:
    The blame of those ye better, The hate of those ye guard–
    The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
    “Why brought he us from bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?”

    Take up the White Man’s burden, Ye dare not stoop to less–
    Nor call too loud on Freedom To cloke your weariness;
    By all ye cry or whisper, By all ye leave or do,
    The silent, sullen peoples Shall weigh your gods and you.

    Take up the White Man’s burden, Have done with childish days–
    The lightly proferred laurel, The easy, ungrudged praise.
    Comes now, to search your manhood, through all the thankless years
    Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom, The judgment of your peers!

  • jon

    The video quality is really poor if you ask me. Good old rolling shutter. Made me want to vomit. Nice video subject I guess. But not really a great commercial for Pentax cameras. From what I’ve read, the new K cameras are pretty damn good still cameras, though. If I was looking for a new video camera, though, I’d steer well clear of whatever this fellow is using.

  • bobcfarrell

    God, that was awful. In so many ways.

  • Chris L

    “Incredibly compelling”? Anyone else underwhelmed and disappointed?

  • kenyee

    Story was compelling but video had too much rolling shutter and I’m a Pentax fan :-(
    Not sure how he did the ocean video w/o an underwater case…the others were shot with him holding the camera on a monopod or something so it’s far enough away from him (you can see him holding it w/ his right arm)…

  • delayedflight

    Yea I have to agree it was really slow considering it’s an advertisement. The guy just spoke in a mono-tone voice so it felt more boring that it should have been.

  • jullsky

    got to agree about the rolling shutter, im a pentaxian myself and i love pentax to death,… but the rolling shutter… man… let down.

  • Vin Weathermon

    I must be an ahole because I actually like the video.

  • CTS

    This is not camera news. This is a commercial. 100%.

  • Frodo

    I liked the video, I would never buy a camera based on it though.

  • Joe

    If you did not use the adjectives “incredibly” or “compelling” in the headline for the five hundred millionth time I like totally never would have clicked on this article.

    But because I’m a ham-fisted, knuckle dragging, pea-brained moron, I like totally got sucked in. Because I, like don’t ever read anything that isn’t “incredible” or “compelling”. I’m such a sucker!

  • Joe

    Has anyone ever tried running a tally of how many times PP has used the words “stunning”, “compelling”, “breathtaking”, “jaw-dropping”, etc… in their headlines?!

    Somebody buy these dudes a thesaurus. Please. Or send them to elementary journalism school. Please. Seriously.

  • Adam Cross

    to me, nothing about this promotes Pentax in any way whatsoever