Fujifilm has inadvertently betrayed itself and street photography in one act of inept marketing.
According to PetaPixel, Fujifilm recently dropped Tatsuo Suzuki as a brand ambassador due to the negative backlash the company received about its recent promo video featuring Suzuki and his "in your face" style of photographing people.
I've previously written about Fujifilm taking down their video in my post "Protecting Public Spaces Means Protecting Controversial Street Photographers Like Tatsuo Suzuki".
It appears that removing a video wasn't enough to appease the outraged masses, in Fujifilm's eyes.
Now, despite how much I disagree with Fujifilm's decision to make a video featuring Suzuki and then taking it down - and having catered to the lowest common denominator of the Politically Correct Lynch Mob, I fully acknowledge that just about every company out there would have done the same considering the controversy which ensued. And certainly Fujifilm has the right to drop anyone from its roster of ambassadors when it feels that retaining any one of them would hurt their business. This goes without saying.
But ironically, Fujifilm had no issues bringing Suzuki on board as an ambassador, knowing fully well his controversial style of shooting. They understood that he was an important figure in street photography, especially in Japan. They undoubtedly sold many cameras because of their partnership with Suzuki, especially to street photographers. They understood thoroughly that marketing the Fujifilm X100V - a camera that Popular Science opined " Fujifilm’s X100V improves on one of the best all-around compact cameras" - would appeal widely to street photographers globally, and that they would sell a shit-ton more with the likes of Suzuki on the front lines pimping it.
The overall problem was with Fujifilm's marketing of the X100V. Surprisingly, Fujifilm seems unaware that street photography is in itself controversial, apart from photographers like Suzuki who push the boundaries of the genre. There would have been no moral outrage, even making a video with Suzuki, had the company decided to leave out the "in your face" methods Suzuki employs to get his shots.They could have simply interviewed him and shown some of his work. They could have placed emphasis on the making of images using a Fujifilm camera creatively in any number of ways. They could have used any of their 47 Japan-based ambassadors to do the job instead. But Fujifilm's marketing department severely fucked up. Now, instead of seamlessly selling more cameras, they've ended up with a controversy surrounding how one photographer sticks his camera in people's faces.
The aftermath of this controversy remains to be seen. But one thing is crystal clear to me: Fujifilm is not on the side of its ambassadors, of working professionals in the photography industry. They will sell out their own photographers at any hint of controversy, especially if it's because of the company's own stupid blunder.
Fujifilm ambassadors beware.