Ricoh Theta: Defining—and Dominating—a New Category
Ricoh pioneered 360-degree digital imaging for consumers with its Theta line of cameras, first announced in 2012. Breakaway was selected to develop and execute the North American launch of the Theta S, the first truly full-featured 360-degree consumer camera. We worked closely with Ricoh’s in-house PR and marketing teams on this project.
A key challenge was explaining the applications and benefits of 360-degree still photos and videos, as the market was nascent and understanding extremely low. Our work required helping to inspire the creation of a 360 ecosystem, as well as driving awareness and sales.
The objective for the Theta S launch was to define—and dominate—an emerging category, as well as drive awareness and sales for the product. By all accounts, Breakaway succeeded, in all ways, and have since been brought to handle all PR for Ricoh Imaging Americas.
Since a key new feature of the Ricoh Theta S camera was the ability to shoot videos as well as still photos, all of our activities were centered on showcasing the features and benefits of 360-degree imagery. To this end, we generated maximum awareness via a multi-layered approach:
- Build a powerful arsenal of materials and content: Provide case studies and links to videos and stills shot with the camera to make it easy for media to create interesting, engaging, relevant stories around the possibilities of 360-degree imagery
- Identify and leverage 360-degree influential photographers/videographers who will share their content and endorse Ricoh’s camera and approach
- Conduct in-person demos with analysts and press so they can “touch and try” the camera
- Offer up a broadcast “exclusive” interview/demo for national TV coverage to Bloomberg
- Invite press to a launch event—co-hosted by Google—at a memorable/unusual venue designed to showcase the power of 360-degree imager
- Carefully prioritize and pursue review and placement opportunities (months following launch)
- The Theta S was very well received among the press, with more than 100 pieces of unique coverage, reaching a combined audience of more than 275 million and resulting in more than 13,993 Twitter mentions.
- Articles appeared in The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Los Angeles Times, Re/Code, PCMag, CNET, Mashable, BuzzFeed, Popular Photography and DP Review, among others.
- Roman Atwood, Brittney Smith and Casey Neistat, influential YouTube personalities, attended the launch event and have been shooting with the Theta S and posting their videos. Their 360-degree videos, plus related videos (those not shot with the Ricoh Theta S but referencing the camera or their experiences with it), have alone received more than 45 MILLION views
- Over 50 high-visibility media were briefed on the camera: 23 press attended the event—including ABC, Bloomberg, Mashable and USA Today—and 28 analysts and press, representing 20 media outlets/analyst firms, were pre-briefed on the camera prior to the event. Pre-briefings included CNN Money, Fast Company, Popular Photography, Re/Code and WIRED.
- Currently, we have Theta S units seeded among top-tier reviewers at outlets including Buzzfeed (34.7M unique monthly visitors), CNET (29M unique monthly visitors), USA Today (26.3M unique visitors), Wall Street Journal (18M unique visitors) and Mashable (14.7M unique visitors), among others. Demand is far outpacing supply.
- Everyone who had an opportunity to touch and try Theta S during our launch described the experience as “magical!”
- Significantly, in early 2017, Ricoh was named the market leader in the first comprehensive industry report on the 360-degree camera market.