Hasselblad Masters Program and Awards

As part of Buddy’s long collaboration with Hasselblad cameras, finding ways to successfully interact with users and potential users of the company’s products was naturally part of our role.

Ironically enough, one of the ongoing challenges we faced with Hasselblad was getting images to use in our marketing and advertising materials. Hasselblad’s products are world renowned, but the company (and its advertising budget) are much smaller than some may believe. Conversely, users of Hasselblad cameras tend to be photographers at the top of their field, photographers who demand the highest prices for image use. Hence the dilemma.

Buddy set out to solve this issue, to find creative ways of recruiting photographers to shoot for Hasselblad and/or to give usage rights to already taken shots.

Hasselblad had for years published an annual calendar featuring shots by Hasselblad shooters. The calendar had very little reach and was slated to be discontinued.

Buddy proposed instead that the calendar program be transformed into something completely different; we proposed building a photographic contest, branded the Hasselblad Masters Awards, that would allow photographers to compete in various categories. Winning photographers would shoot an assignment for Hasselblad, and have their work published in an annual Masters book, to be sold and distributed worldwide. Having worked with professional photographers for many years, we knew that having artistic work published in book form was a holy grail for many shooters. In addition, the ability to win or purchase Hasselblad gear for a discounted price would provide another incentive.

The then CEO of Hasselblad asked if we could guarantee a first-year recruitment of 500 photographers (we had only four months to do achieve the goal). With sweat dripping down our backs, but with confidence in the recruitment ideas and incentives, we assured him that we could.

In four months’ time, we recruited almost 1500 photographers to the program. Last year there were almost 20,000 applicants to the program.

In addition to developing the initial concept, designing and building the web portal, helping to organize Masters exhibitions, and assisting in judging the contest entries, Buddy also produced a wide range of peripheral materials to support and promote the contest until 2015.

The Hasselblad Masters is now one of the world’s most prestigious professional photographic competitions and gives acclaimed professionals, as well as aspiring newcomers, the chance to make their mark in the world of high-end photography. Solving not only the need for high quality photographs, but providing the most successful marketing platform in the company’s history, the contest is still an international success, with tens of thousands of applicants every year vying for the chance to become a Hasselblad Master take part in the special Master’s book project, exhibitions, and the entire range of Master’s activities.

And all this from cancelling a calendar.