Breaking Down “Boundaries”

‘Live for the story.’ It’s a simple maxim; one that we hear reiterated throughout our interactions. Canon molds that philosophy into a story that explores life, adventure, and illumination in fluid motion. ‘Boundaries’ follows the story of a young man, from infancy to his mid-twenties. As he moves and interacts with his world, his surroundings are illuminated with spotlights. Surprisingly, you don’t realize it is a Canon commercial until the end when the logo fades up. Today, we’ll delve into the visual story of ‘Boundaries,’ why it works as a commercial, and how taking the “brand” out of “branded content” catapulted this spot into critical praise.



First, let’s talk about the use of light in ‘Boundaries.’ It’s such a bold idea to incorporate children and horses into your concept, but then to add the synchronization of spotlights is bonkers. It reminded me of driving at night. Your headlights illuminate only what’s in front of you; like the world is materializing around you. VCCP senior creative, Seb Housden, says, “The places you haven’t been, the people you haven’t met—they aren’t part of your world until you’re willing to go out there and find them. The concept of illuminating these stories around you stems from this belief that great stories happen when you push your boundaries.”

It’s a gorgeously rendered piece with precise, evocative camerawork. It’s not flashy, but it tells the story that needs to be seen. What strikes me are the transitions from each stage of the young man’s life. The camera presents different means of emerging through stages of life, i.e, going through a threshold as a toddler and coming out the other side as a teenager. The style is whimsical, as if every frame discovers something new and exciting. One of my favorite shots is in the car: the young man is in the front passenger seat and turns back towards the girls. They laugh, a moment of pure bliss. Also, did you notice the only product placement in the entire spot? It’s on the dashboard in the car.





That brings me to my next point: why would Canon allow for so little of their product to be shown? Canon’s goal is to invite younger consumers to their brand. Millennials spend a major chunk of their time posting photos of their crappy, expensive coffees and taking pictures of their faces with puppy filters. However, Canon wants to reach them in a relatable way. Steve Marsh, client senior campaign manager, adds: “The whole point is to get people to reassess Canon, to think differently about a brand they have either known of old, or have never come across before.”

Younger consumers are way more savvy to being sold on something. Take it from me, a young(er) person: it’s not as effective. Features and specs are great, but what we want is to be sold an experience, or to ensure that a product stands for something. Canon’s messaging is perfect: Live for the Story. While everyone else is limited in taking cameraphone photos, you can live a life of adventure and capture it in a cinematic, artistic way with Canon cameras. The audience gets swept up in a sumptuous, vivacious storyline and then they’re hit with the Canon branding. All of a sudden, your mind connects the brand to the adventurous life you crave.

by Benton Olivares