Santa better watch out in new ad

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Sony electronics' e-solutions co. kicks Santa to the curb in an irreverent TV and online campaign breaking Nov. 21 supporting its new e-commerce portal.

The four-week, five-market TV effort, created by Y&R Advertising, New York, is the first ad campaign for Sony's new business unit, established earlier this year. The advertising is designed to drive frazzled holiday shoppers to with a hefty dose of black humor. Media buying and planning are handled by Young & Rubicam's Digital Edge; online advertising and marketing are by Orb, New York.'s inaugural ad effort also includes guerrilla marketing components via Middleberg Euro. The budget for the effort was undisclosed

The commercials feature scenarios reminiscent of the Coen Brothers film "Fargo"-Santa gets roughed up and abducted by drifters; Sony products appear prominently in end frames. Text reads: "We have Santa. Shop at or there will be no X-mas." The spots will run on national cable networks in Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington. The goal of the commercials is to drive Web users to, which sells hundreds of Sony electronics products ranging from digital cameras to portable MiniDisc players. Consumers also will be able to buy CDs and download music through the site's Music Club; owners of Sony's Vaio computers can visit Club Vaio to get the latest product information and promotions; and online shoppers can also visit the Image Station, a service for creating, storing and manipulating digital images.


There also are plans to offer a Sony-branded dial-up and DSL service sometime during the first half of 2001 in partnership with Internet access provider Covad Communications. Sony, over the last couple years, has promoted the idea of connected devices, rather than standalone products, and envisions broadband Internet connectivity as a linchpin. marks yet another step in this long-term strategy.

Products on are featured within the context of six home pages, each organized around different lifestyles and product groupings. Sony hopes the psychographic, lifestyle-oriented approach will set apart from other e-commerce portals.

"This is an entirely new kind of e-commerce Web site for the digital era," said Robert Ashcroft, e-Solutions president-CEO. "We're showing connected devices in context."

Michael Tive, VP-marketing at e-Solutions, believes Sony has the brand advantage that will help it as extends beyond consumer electronics products to services such as warranty, financial, customized installation instructions, relationship marketing programs and more.

"I think a natural advantage comes from us being a trusted manufacturer," Mr. Tive said. Sony plans to add editorial content, such as technology and entertainment news, as well as product reviews with partners that haven't yet been confirmed. Although currently, has 40 products listed with reviews from consumer electronics portal Sony also is in discussions with Hachette Filipacchi Magazines for reviews and content.


Regarding the campaign, Mr. Tive said: "The objective is to create awareness for and to drive commerce-enabled traffic . . . we want to position the site as being integral to the Christmas gift-giving season."

According to Jupiter Media Metrix, racks up 3 million unique visitors per month, two-thirds of which go to Sony Electronics' site. Sony has linked to to drive traffic directly to the fledgling site.

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