Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, is a favorite to pick up the marketer's electronics account, according to executives familiar with Sony. Fallon currently handles advertising for Sony Electronics in Europe and Japan.
Sony, once a market leader in consumer electronics and, in particular, mobile music devices, long has been slow to innovate. It failed to convert its Walkman heritage into MP3 player success, getting stranded in a hot category by competitors like Apple and it's iPod system.
A Sony Electronics spokesman declined to comment. A Y&R spokeswoman did not return calls for comment. A Fallon Worldwide spokeswoman declined to comment.
Sony Electronics spent $44.7 million on measured media domestically for January to October 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence CMR. For 2003, spending was $56.7 million.
Handled account since '90s
The New York office of Y&R had handled Sony's electronics business since the late 1990s, but the account has been in trouble lately for numerous reasons. Y&R is a unit of WPP's Young & Rubicam Brands.
Sony late last year moved its consumer electronics headquarters, previously split between a San Diego suburb, Rancho Bernardo, and Park Ridge, N.J., to San Diego. Y&R shifted account and creative teams to its offices in Irvine, Calif. Last year, John Partilla, the Y&R executive in charge of Sony, left the agency and was replaced by Angela Pih, who, said an executive familiar with the matter, "didn't gel" with the client, and stayed on the job only several months, said one executive.
Pressure on Y&R
The move adds more pressure both to Y&R's team in Irvine, which is currently fighting to retain creative duties on the global Jaguar account, which went into review in November. It also adds to a string of account losses for Y&R North America over the past year, including major accounts from Computer Associates and Burger King.
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Beth Synder Bulik contributed to this article.