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Pia Wurtzbach, photographers call out Canon for all-male ambassador roster: 'No room for inclusivity?'

By CHUCK SMITH Published Jul 21, 2021 3:53 pm Updated Jul 21, 2021 9:50 pm

Popular electronics brand Canon is currently under fire for a local marketing campaign that its critics online have said has no “room for inclusivity.

Last week, Canon Philippines, the local division of the brand best known for its cameras, launched a campaign called "Crusaders of Light," which features 11 professional photographers in different fields such as journalism, advertising, and fashion. The brand’s social media account announced the names of the campaign’s brand ambassadors one by one throughout the week.

But netizens criticized Canon throughout the social media rollout of their campaign, when it became obvious that the brand may not include female photographers in their roster of ambassadors.

“Where are the female photographers?” one commenter wrote.

“Women are allowed to use camera in the Philippines, right?” another netizen commented.  

On Tuesday, July 20, Canon Philippines announced the complete set of photographers featured in their campaign. The roster, indeed, is composed of an all-male line up.

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach commented on Canon Philippines’ Instagram page, asking how the brand ambassadors were chosen.

“No hate to the chosen ambassadors but wala ba talagang room for inclusivity?’ Wurtzbach asked. “How were the ambassadors chosen? Based on what? Not hating on the ambassadors but the marketing team should fix this ASAP. Kasi di rin magandang tingnan para sa ambassadors nila.”

She added, “I’m sure (and hope) not all of them agree with this kind of narrative.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, award-winning photojournalist Ezra Acayan described the brand’s roster of photographers as a “sausage fest.” “Not a single non-male photographer on this list,” he said.

In a comment on Ezra’s Facebook post, photographer Jes Aznar criticized the idea of camera brand ambassadorships instead, saying he still waits “for the day when Filipino photographers talk about images, ideas, and processes instead of camera brands.”

Canon Philippines issued a statement on Wednesday, saying it supports “camera enthusiasts and content creators regardless of gender, culture, customs, languages, or race.”

It added that their brand ambassadorship is “continuously growing” and are “evaluated through their professional expertise and consistent brand support.” But many netizens continued to call out the statement for not addressing the issue of their campaign's non-inclusivity.

In the latest development, photojournalist Jilson Tiu has announced on Facebook that he is dropping his ambassadorship at Canon following Canon's statement.

"It’s been a long time coming (3 years) and this is the tipping point," said Tiu.

"I love Canon cameras, so far, it’s been my partner for a decade of my photography career. What I don’t like is they didn’t apologized for the mistake that they’ve done. They should make up for it and apologize publicly. Thank you Canon for the three years, I will continue to use your camera as a tool, but I don’t want to be an ambassador to a brand that doesn’t align with my principles. Paalam at salamat, magkaiba tayo ng daan na nilalakaran."