Sony Touts New Digital Strategy

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NEW YORK ( -- Sony Electronics on Wednesday screened a series of new TV spots and ad concepts at a media
Watch two of the Sony spots in RealPlayer. Click the links below:

'Walkman Has Landed


briefing to showcase its marketing strategy for the balance of the year.

A dozen new TV spots created by WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, New York and Irvine, Calif., help promote Sony's platform-based strategy of connected digital devices.

The advertising, some of which is in production and in a couple of cases only in concept, touts three digital platforms -- home entertainment (TVs, audio-video components, DVD decks and more), exemplified by the theme "A place called Sony"; a personal network concept (Vaio PCs, digital cameras and camcorders and the Clie handheld), bearing the "Creative Living" theme; and portable audio (CD, MD and Network Walkman devices), symbolized by "Plato," a small, blue alien who began appearing in advertising last year.

Creating an emotional bond
All of Sony's advertising is wrapped under the umbrella theme "Dream On." Y&R, Sony's agency partner for nearly three years, has been instrumental in helping the consumer electronics giant create an emotional bond with people, creating fanciful, provocative and humorous advertising that celebrates unity and eclecticism.

"We would like to encourage more creativity, more joy and more dreams," said the briefing's host, T. Scott Edwards, senior vice president of the Brand and Marketing Communications Group at Sony.

Overall, Sony is looking to emphasize the concept of connected rather than stand-alone devices. The strategy, which Sony first embarked upon last year, reflects the company's mandate from its Tokyo-based parent, Sony Corp., to become a networked entertainment company. The promise of broadband delivery of content -- movies, music and games -- into the home is not yet a mass-consumer reality, but Sony is betting heavily on it, building network companies and partnerships around broadband.

Monastic connection
Among the crop of new spots screened, "Monks" -- a 30-second spot filmed in the Himalaya Mountains -- features a monk doing Web design on a Sony Vaio R505 laptop PC. Another monk joins him carrying a docking station, then both watch a Three Stooges DVD on the PC. The spot will air in coming weeks.

Sony's home entertainment platform touts TVs and DVD mega-changers and targets "Gen E," or people "who possess an extra entertainment chromosome," said John Partilla, managing director of the Sony business at Y&R. It's a tech-savvy, passionate audience that happily retreats to "A place called Sony," an emotional and physical metaphor, he said.

Sony aired a 90-second mood piece, the basic elements of which are featured in a TV spot that breaks next week. The spot, set in a toy and hobby shop, transports the viewer, via a kindly, all-knowing shopkeeper, to a "place called Sony" behind a red curtain. The spot evokes a fantasy land of joy and entertainment.

The ethereal "Kite," a spot viewed in rough-cut form, will debut in two weeks and features the voice-over, "With Wega, you don't watch TV, you feel it." Two additional home-entertainment spots are in production.

Blurring demographics
Sony's "Plato"-inspired Walkman campaign targets "Gen Y" -- 12 to 24 year olds -- a move, executives say, that won't necessarily alienate older consumers. In fact, Sony executives maintain that demographic groupings are becoming less important as the company's marketing executives rally around various lifestyles.

The shift creates challenges for media buyers and planners, though, as boundaries blur between groups. Sony, with Y&R's Media Edge, is expected to make more targeted and smarter media buys than ever with its estimated $100 million ad and marketing budget.

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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