With new work marrying HD TVs and cameras, as well as aggressive retail marketing and U.S. TV drop-in buys of its previously European-only "Colour" spots, Sony plans a more energetic push behind its "HDNA" strategy.
"If you talk to consumers, once they watch in high definition, it's rare that they want to go back to standard definition. That's the type of mind-set Sony wants to harness in all of its products," said Stuart Redsun, Sony Electronics senior VP-corporate marketing.
The $100 million campaign, which carries the tagline "High Definition. It's in our DNA," began in late summer with work demonstrating Sony's expertise in HD from TVs to behind-the-scenes film equipment and hardware, using spokesmen NFL quarterback Peyton Manning and Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. This next phase adds HD cameras to the mix, showcasing both the products and the ease of connecting them.
Broad mix of products
That's just the beginning. Sony will continue to add a broad mix of its products, including camcorders, Blu-ray players, PlayStation gaming consoles, and music and movies from across its divisions to its marketing, Mr. Redsun said. The HDNA "molecules" from the earlier ads will appear in a variety of product marketing, from SonyStyle holiday window displays to newspaper circulars to specialty events.
The push falls under the broader corporate marketing strategy of "Sony United," a theme hatched by Chairman-CEO Howard Stringer two years ago. "Sony United" has been the driving marketing and business strategy for the company and seems to be gaining traction.
Efforts such as the HNDA marketing, as well as retail bundling of Sony products and content, joint releases on hardware and software -- such as the summer blockbuster "Spider-Man 3" in HD included with Sony Blu-ray players and PlayStation 3 this season -- are pushing Sony mind share and sales up.
Recall rates for Sony ads are the highest they've been in six years, Mr. Redsun said. Further, he said, when asked specifically about HD products, consumers named Sony four times more often than the nearest competitor.
Sales up 21%
Sales have corresponded to that brand recognition. Sony Electronics' most recent quarter showed a sales increase of almost 21% year over year, contributing to an overall increase of more than 12% at Sony Corp. as a whole.
In just the LCD TV segment, Sony had the fastest third-quarter growth among the top five brands tracked by DisplaySearch in the U.S. Its share was up 108% quarter over quarter and up 84% year over year, pushing Sony up from No. 3 to No. 1 in revenue, according to the research firm.
Of course, while an umbrella strategy of diverse products under one brand can work successfully -- see Virgin, Honda and American Express -- there are challenges for Sony, said Ted Morris, BrandIntel's senior VP-global alliances.
"If they're going to be successful, there has to be an element of core brand value at the center," he said. "It's fine to bring the content and electronics together, but to produce what? The challenge is [to communicate] what 'Sony United' actually stands for and what it means to consumers."