SONY HITS HOME IN PUSH FOR ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEMS

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Sony Electronics next week kicks off a sweeping integrated marketing program that, for the first time, links key products under a home entertainment positioning.

The program will be backed by a $30 million campaign that represents Sony's biggest-ever fourth-quarter outlay. The effort also provides the groundwork for Sony to extend its market dominance in the new era of digital networked entertainment.

Young & Rubicam, New York, developed the intricate marketing campaign over the last year. The aim is to establish Sony as a trusted guide as consumers look to tap into new entertainment experiences. The campaign's theme is "Sony home entertainment universe."

NEXT GENERATION

Sony's goal is to rev sales of its next-generation Wega Flat Screen TVs, DVD players, DirecTV satellite systems, WebTV units and digital surround-sound speakers and receivers, and promote product and system connectivity.

"As a brand, we're going to be creating digital possibilities and the customer is going to custom-configure how they want their home entertainment and what things they want in their personal network," said T. Scott Edwards, senior VP-marketing communications group, Sony Electronics.

Forthcoming creative executions will address Sony's personal networking solutions via its Memory Stick, a chewing gum-sized portable medium, and a PC-centric platform that showcases linkages between its VAIO computers, digital camcorders and cameras.

An aggressive direct-response element is used in the TV and print that will lead consumers to an 800-number and to the Web to plan their home entertainment needs.

"We're qualifying the consumer and allowing the consumer to tell us what they want to know," said Fujio Nishida, president of Sony's consumer products marketing group.

UNITING EFFORTS

Under Mr. Nishida's leadership, Sony worked to unite disparate product marketing efforts under a single umbrella and create a cross-selling platform.

The new campaign, a mix of TV, print, online banner ads and sponsorships, along with direct marketing, injects a much-needed dose of attitude and quirkiness that was lacking in previous creative, according to Mr. Edwards.

Sony last year ended relationships with Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, and Citron Haligman Bedecarre, San Francisco, ultimately consolidating its ad account at Y&R last September, after a review.

The first of three TV spots breaks today on ABC's "NFL Monday Night Football," NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and CBS' "Late Night With David Letterman," with additional executions following in successive weeks. The spots will air in heavy rotation on top prime-time network shows as well as on leading cable programs.

A 1984-esque :60 sets up Sony's Wega as a revolutionary new force in TV, with people all over the world unhooking their old sets, placing them on the curb and embracing Wega.

"Only Sony could come out and say this is the end of television as you know it," said Corey Basso, senior VP-account managing director at Y&R.

GUARDING THE DVD

A 30-second spot called "Burglar" shows a man in an elegant home being robbed of everything but his Sony DVD player, with the voice-over "Sony DVD, your most prized possession." The luminous and offbeat :60 "Monkeys" depicts an upscale man reading his newspaper on a subway car seemingly unaware as monkeys climb all over him. The monkeys scatter when he arrives home and turns on his home entertainment system.

The agency's Wunderman Cato Johnson group handled the direct-marketing component, to which Sony has made a three-year commitment. Y&R's Luminant/Brand Dialogue created a new home entertainment Web site (www.sony.com/HE) and online shopping guide.

Sony is now in planning for 2000 and a global brand image effort that had been expected this year. After a three- to four-month brand audit is completed, Mr. Edwards said the foundation for a macro plan should be in place that is expected to link Sony's other entertainment businesses.

"It's a complicated, big brand, and the question is how do we leverage [its]

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