Building the Consumer Facing Anti-Counterfeit Web Page

Andrew Love
Brand Protection/Investigations, Specialized Bicycles  

Joey Snyder
Senior Manager, Service Marketing & Education Division, Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Thanks for stopping by for a virtual conversation. I am happy to be chatting with you since I’ve had Canon film and digital cameras for years. So forgive me if I fanboy a bit with my first generation Canon ELPH camera in my hand (both film & digital).

We’re always happy to chat with a Canon fan – we’re thrilled you’ve been so pleased with our products for all this time!

But what I am here to discuss is the inside story behind your consumer facing anti-counterfeit website,  ABOUT COUNTERFEITS   

It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. What is the behind the scenes story about how this was created?  

Our story really begins with our team of anti-counterfeiting investigators at Canon USA.  As a result of their successful detection and enforcement actions against counterfeiters, we’ve uncovered thousands of knockoff “Canon” batteries and chargers. Among the confiscated samples we’ve collected, we’ve found alarming examples of fake power devices that are just not safe, such as melted camera batteries and burnt camera battery chargers. We felt a strong obligation to make people aware of the dangers of counterfeit power accessories so consumers can avoid the risks of hurting themselves or damaging their cameras. 

Public safety is crucial, so tell me more about how you educate consumers about the dangers of counterfeits.   

We approach the public from many points in addition to our About Counterfeits website. In 2013, we established a special hotline where consumers can report suspicious products and even arrange for a Canon technical specialist to verify if an item is genuine or counterfeit. We also educate through social media, feature a “Spot the Fake” learning game at shows and other events, and invest in paid ads that raise awareness on a large scale. We’ve also partnered with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) , as they align very closely with our goals of safety and our strategy of raising awareness. We’re proud to work with an important organization like the NCPC and, together, we’ve been spreading the word about the dangers of counterfeits through collaborative advertising, community outreach, and public service announcements.

How did this idea of education inform your “Spot the Fake” quiz? I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else.

When people are engaged with content, they are more inclined to absorb the message in that content. We wanted to make the experience fun and interactive for our audience, as well as educational. Our goal of the “Spot the Fake” quiz is actually to demonstrate how difficult it is to tell the difference between a genuine Canon product and a counterfeit.

Our intent is not to teach consumers how to spot a fake, but to help them to realize that it’s nearly impossible to do so and they should instead rely on our best suggestions to avoid the unwitting purchase of counterfeits: stick to shopping at reputable sources, such as authorized dealers or directly with the manufacturer, and be cautious of “too good to be true” prices. 

The videos that are on the page are particularly interesting. How did you get buy-in and budget to create these? 

I’m proud to say that Canon’s executive management team stands wholeheartedly behind this initiative. Solving this problem is a chief concern at the highest levels within Canon, and our team strives to create compelling content that will best capture the attention of our audience.

Our “side-by-side” animation was designed to reveal what consumers can’t see inside a counterfeit device: poor quality, careless workmanship, and significant compromise, or complete exclusion, of important safety mechanisms. Counterfeits often contain a fraction of the components found in the genuine product. In our example, the heat management technologies incorporated in the genuine Canon power accessory are missing in the counterfeit version, which can cause the counterfeit to melt, leak, smoke, ignite, or even explode. Outside appearances can be misleading and, almost always, when someone sees our side-by-side comparison, they are quite shocked at the differences.

Our “Spot the Fake” video was infused with a little shock value as well, in order to grab the attention of the public so they will hear our important message. Other video content includes explanations of the anti-counterfeiting technology featured in select Canon products as well as an animated demonstration of our anti-counterfeiting hologram.

Do you have any analytics on what pages consumers are visiting?

We continually measure traffic coming to our website and we see a spike in activity when we run an awareness campaign. Depending on the nature of the content we are communicating, we will direct traffic to various sections of the site such as the quiz, top ten tips, or news about our activities with the National Crime Prevention Council.

What are the big pieces of advice you would like to communicate from your experience building this website?

Being proactive and sincere in this type of awareness campaign is the key. Our hope is that consumers will see the importance of our message and will make an informed decision when thinking about these types of purchases.

Thanks for chatting. I’ve been inspired by the hard work you all have done here!

Thanks to you as well. We have gotten a lot of positive input from other brands, organizations, and like-minded individuals like you. We appreciate all the feedback because it tells us we’re on the right track in creating consumer awareness