Sony's Plato Gets Star Treatment

Plans could include TV pilot

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% Plato, Sony Electronics' digital mascot, may soon find a life beyond the company's advertising campaigns.

The furry blue space alien has been the star of Sony portable electronics advertising in the U.S., targeting GenY consumers for four years. The Japanese electronics giant is considering extending the Plato character to new platforms and has shot non-advertising footage recently in Toronto, which could evolve into many forms, including a TV pilot. Other possible applications could be the Internet and non-advertising media like trade shows and internal usage.

"We are exploring the creation of alternative content to seamlessly showcase Sony products and their unique applications in a pure entertainment space," said Derek Koenig, director, consumer segment marketing, Sony Electronics. "We're always looking for new ideas and ways to get in front of the consumer." Koenig declined to confirm the existence of a TV pilot and he also declined to name Sony's potential media and agency partners in any such endeavor.

WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, New York, and the agency's Brand Buzz unit, are Sony's agencies of record. A Y&R/Brand Buzz spokeswoman referred calls to Sony.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% According to executives close to the matter, Sony has had conversations with multiple partners, including Viacom Productions, about collaborating on a TV pilot. The Sony Plato ad campaign has, thus far, run exclusively on Viacom's MTV. A Viacom spokeswoman declined to comment about the project.

The pilot could end up as an animated series, an underground cult series or even a short film, indicating that the 4-year-old character might indeed become an evergreen property. Execs close to the matter said the Toronto shoot was helmed by Eric Fogel, director of MTV's "Celebrity Deathmatch."

The Plato character was originally conceived at Y&R by a team that included Matt Aselton, Randy Van Kleeck and Nelson Martinez. The three subsequently left the agency to launch Union, a New York-based creative boutique, in January 2002. According to execs close to the situation, Union has been a driving creative force on the new project as well. Union execs declined to comment about their involvement.

Sony has gradually become more aggressive in the branded entertainment and integration space. At this year's Super Bowl , the vocal track using the Stephen Stills classic "Carry On" in the Sony TV spot was sung by Alana Davis, a relatively unknown artist. Sony tagged the spot, leading viewers to a dedicated Sony Web site whereby they could purchase the track with Davis via PC download.

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