Interview with Tereda and other Olympus staff

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
erichK
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Your defense is spot-on!
In reply to Eamon Hickey, 10 months ago

Having dealt with immigrants for a dozen years, and a lot of English as an *ADDITIONAL* language (only English-speakers would have the arrogance to assume that the rest of the world is as unilingual as most of them are) I immediately recognized his sincere but awkward attempt to communicate a complex and (let's hope) nuanced marketing strategy in a language that works very differently from Japanese. You're probably right about his engineering background, too. I dealt mainly with engineers and think that I recognize the attempt to pose logical solutions to areas - like marketing - that are  seldom amenable to them.

That said, and the probable immense energy and productivity of San Terada and others like him acknowledged, it would likely do Olympus a world of good to finally get some new blood into their top management and board.  Perhaps even -GASP - a woman or three 8-).

Eamon Hickey wrote:

sderdiarian wrote:

MichaelKJ wrote:

If targeting young women and relying on word of mouth constitute the core of Oly's marketing strategy then we can only hope they succeed despite managerial incompetence.

Sums it up: they succeed in spite of themselves.

On one hand they have this wonderful core group of designers and engineers working in the background developing some truly wonderful products well ahead of their time, while their spokespeople and marketers (I hesitate to even use the word here) are frankly completely out of touch with how best to promote their products in the west.

Maybe it's because I've received briefings from Terada several times and like him, but I feel like noting a couple of (maybe?) mitigating factors.

First, there's a language barrier. Terada speaks okay basic English (I have no idea about his other languages), but he's not fluent. In my many years encountering Japanese camera engineers and executives, I met only one who was truly fluent in English (he was the President of Nikon USA in the late 1990s and had spent much of his career in Canada and the U.S.).

I know from my own awkward attempts to speak Spanish in Latin America and French or Italian in Europe, that I just don't have the words and syntax to express nuanced or complex statements. So, often I simplify. I default to what I can say, not necessarily what I would say in English.

The language issue is actually a fairly big problem with camera industry news in the west. I'm 100% sure that only the Japanese camera press gets good and complete information directly from the manufacturers on any kind of consistent basis.

Secondly, in my own meetings with Terada, I always found his statements -- both about camera technology (I think he's an engineer) and about camera marketing -- to be cogent and measured. Not necessarily deeply revealing, but cogent and measured.

All that said -- and this goes to the point you and Michael were making -- in my experience Olympus is somewhat unusual in leading their western press rollouts with a Japanese executive. I've also received tons of briefings from Canon, Nikon, Sony et. al., and they all lead with local (i.e. American, for me) marketing and technical spokespeople.

I think you're both right that the statement about making cameras for women would be completely unremarkable in Japan, but seems off-key in the west. I think, however, there are ways to say the same thing in the west, if you have the language and cultural nuance you need.

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erichK
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