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IDEA announces $1 million ‘swansong’

The following is a letter from long-serving IDEA president James Murray outlining the industry association’s Project 2020 swansong, after which it appears to be heading towards winding down. The letter was prompted by a series of questions Inside Imaging put to IDEA president, James Murray regarding IDEA’s future direction. He declined to address the specific questions, offering this letter as a publishable alternative:

Dear IDEA and industry members,

James Murray, managing director of Nikon Australia, has held the role of president of IDEA since 2012/13

IDEA is delighted to announce a sponsorship initiative that will see near $1million invested in promoting the benefits of a camera and related equipment over a smart phone in capturing, creating and enjoying content. Our industry is witnessing unprecedented challenges, this sponsorship comes at a time when the promotion of our industry needs it most.

Referred to within IDEA as ‘Project 2020’, the concept is simple – IDEA invited submissions from IDEA members (present and past to Dec 2015) to submit a promotional or advertising concept which will build awareness of camera-based creativity, particularly inspiring smartphone users. There have been two invitations for submission, stage 1 and stage 2. Under stage 1, the member must invest in the promotion at a significant level of minimum $40,000, and IDEA will match the investment by sponsorship of $20,000 up to maximum $50,000 (for a $100,000 project). Following stage 1 submissions there were funds remaining from the Project 2020 budget due to a lower than anticipated response, stage 2 sponsorship was offered to those members who responded to stage 1. Under stage 2 a separate project could be submitted, or the original stage 1 project could be extended with further member investment matched by IDEA.

The goal in sponsoring the members activity is to amplify and extend the reach into the community and further the awareness of photography, videography and the related products/services connected to the camera. It will inspire the customer, triggering the ‘I can’t do that on my phone’ moment. While sponsored by IDEA, it is the member’s promotion, so there are minimal administration and no agency costs to IDEA, meaning funds are being fully utilised to promote the industry at this challenging time.

I expect you will start seeing member events sponsored by IDEA from August, still dependent on COVID restrictions. Once the schedule of events is fixed, they will appear on the IDEA website as a sponsorship.

Over the recent years IDEA has been focused on preserving the industry funds generated from the 2015 Melbourne Digital Show. While the show was incredibly successful, the cost of running the show was immense – all up estimates of total industry investment was $3million. It was decided that IDEA would move to a biennial show format, however by 2017 the decision was made to cancel the proposed Sydney ICC show and release the reserved dates. This decision was made partly based on industry engagement in participating at the show and also by the IDEA board while reflecting on 2015 success, recognizing the industry heavy investment and questioning the best utilisation of industry funds.

There has been a complete focus on preserving the recovered financial position of IDEA since 2015, minimizing all expense and I thank the directors for making facilities available for meetings and Eve Phillips for continuing to contract to IDEA at reduced capacity. During this time events have been proposed and considered by the board, including a major sponsorship of a photographic festival, and last year the involvement in a conference providing exhibition and education space. On these occasions and others there have been factors which have resulted in a decision being made not to proceed and continue the preservation of funds.

In early 2019 the IDEA board and members met for a strategy meeting at Olympus Australia, the focus being, ‘How can IDEA provide value to the “new” industry?’ Based on feedback from past members, it was evident that value was not going to be provided by acting on the members behalf, such as representing industry to government, industry data & statistics, event sponsorship or collaboration on industry issues. Member companies largely appear to choose to represent themselves, for many reasons, but certainly one being driven by competitive advantage over industry ‘one voice’. Leading up to the 2015 show, IDEA had invested heavily in consultants and an executive director to provide what was believed at the time to be value to the industry. We reflect on a loss of members as the industry changed, and once valued benefits of IDEA were no longer valued. The 2019 strategy meeting concluded that IDEA must focus on the consumer aspect of the industry and how we move those loving image capture on their smartphone, to being a creator of photos and video on a camera, also driving accessory and print sales.

The execution of the strategy was considered carefully. Running our own awareness campaign to consumer was the obvious option, as the association has done in the past. However engaging agencies on the campaign would soak up industry funds, funds we could use to extend our reach.

At the 2019 AGM it was agreed we would launch Project 2020 and leverage our members companies resources to come up with their own campaigns, events, or promotions which would align with the IDEA strategy and purpose. To support the members external costs of the activity, IDEA would sponsor the activity. Members internal creative/administration costs would not be supported by IDEA.

The result is we have five events that IDEA will sponsor, there has been zero agency or consultant costs to IDEA – 100 percent of industry funds are being used to engage and promote. The IDEA board approved each submission. To avoid any potential conflict of interest, directors were excluded from voting on their own company submission or related company. Following the sponsorship of the Project 2020 events, the IDEA board will again consider the future steps of the association at the upcoming Annual General Meeting. The reality is, without an income stream of major events such as exhibitions, the future of IDEA is uncertain. There will be once again be an assessment of what value IDEA can provide the industry, and if this can be provided sustainably, the association will aim to do so. If it is evident that there is no appetite for members to support IDEA initiatives, and there is no value proposition which resonates with members or potential members, the board will consider what that means at that time, and possibly the windup of IDEA. The date of the AGM will be towards the end of November, the date will be fixed during

For now it’s a time to celebrate the promotion of our great industry, and I thank those who have supported the industry events over the years which now allows us to promote our category at such an important time. Certainly, with IDEA’s sponsorship and the various manufacturers’ own activity over the next six months, excitement of content creation will be promoted in a way that our industry will greatly benefit.
Yours sincerely,



James Murray
Imaging & Digital Entertainment Australia Ltd 



One Comment

  1. Paul Curtis Paul Curtis July 23, 2020

    If the camera manufacturers are serious about wooing smart phones users away from their existing camera phone features, they need to take a good long look at the products they are offering. First off, they have to recognise that a smart phone buyer likes small, light and versatile. Secondly, they are unlikely to want to reproduce anything larger than poster print size. Thirdly, it has to be recognised that for a significant real difference, they need to be looking at a system camera. Wow, look at the price of that! You’ve got to be joking. Must be all assembled by technicians charging plumber rates! What happened to the assembly line? Maybe Chinese workers have jacked up their hourly rates!
    To get any real market traction with this group, the camera body price should include a good range of lenses and accessories. As it is, they are just pricing themselves for the pro and semi pro market.
    Lastly, they want to to good look at the inane advertised terminology: mirrorless, full frame, digital, etc . So last century. Hello, wake up, its 2020.

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