Sony Uses Fashion Week to Promote P-series PC

Takes to Manhattan Streets With 'Live Mannequins' Decked out With Ultraslim Notebook

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- Watch out for texting mannequins later this week at Grand Central Station.

Sony's P-series 'lifestyle notebook' made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month.
Sony's P-series 'lifestyle notebook' made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month. Credit: Sony Electronics, Inc.
In a bid to show off its stylish side in the run-up to Fashion Week, Sony will position well-outfitted "live mannequins" on New York streets accessorized by its sleek, colorful and tiny Vaio P-series computer.

"It's an innovative product that really deserves to go to market in an innovative way," said Alberto Escobedo, director-brand messaging, Sony Electronics. The P-series "lifestyle notebook," which made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, is a diminutive 10 inches by 5 inches and weighs 1.4 pounds.

Around the city
The 10 fashion models, or live mannequins, will show up in different groupings at two to three varying locations around Manhattan every day starting Jan. 30 through Feb. 14. Each one will have a Vaio P in various hues, including garnet red, crystal white and emerald green, and beckon passersby to take a look.

As a further connection to Fashion Week, the model-quins will be wearing one of four different up-and-coming designers chosen by Sony who will be showing collections. Each of those designers -- Threeasfour, Elise Overland, Katy Rodriguez and Libertine, along with two others, Benjamin Cho and Cushnie et Ochs -- will also design a window display mixing fashion and the Vaio P at the SonyStyle store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. After the windows rollout Feb. 11, the same designs will be introduced to all 40-plus SonyStyle stores around the country.

There will also be a correlating online media buy, designed to drive traffic to the PC's new home base, sony.com/golightly, which goes live Monday. The site will be carry product information and ordering, but also will also be campaign-focused, with a listing of where you can find the mannequins, as well as pictures and videos posted after the events. They've also created a YouTube channel to post 15-second consumer reactions to the P-series.

The campaign, created by 180 Los Angeles, was built around the P-series attributes of "fashion forward, looking good and ultra portable," Mr. Escobedo said. William Gelner, executive creative director of 180, said, "The benefit of the idea is you get to see it and interact with it, which is unique because the only other time you get that is at retail."

Notebook vs. netbook
And while Sony insists the diminutive notebook is not a "netbook" (pointing to the high-end specs on the machine), the computer is still drawing comparisons to the up-and-coming category of super-small PCs. "It all depends on what you call a netbook," said NPD analyst Steve Baker. "Some people would say netbook, others say ultramobile portable. ... I think what we're seeing, though, is the evolution of a concept around what consumers want -- smaller, more portable and not outrageously expensive [computers]."

He said he thinks the further evolution of smaller, more powerful and cheaper notebooks, such as HP's upcoming 12-inch dv2 and the Nvidia Ion and Intel Atom combined netbooks later this year, will eventually subsume the netbook category.

"The basics are that netbooks spurred companies to think about what customers really needed, and I think what we'll see is a whole range of low-cost but pretty capable machines for a wide range of consumers," he said. "There's been a lot of hand-wringing about netbooks and definitions, but instead it should be 'What happens to the business now that we've done it and now it's accelerating this change from the $899 to the $599 notebook?'"

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