Sony Set To Pick Ad Agency For New-Generation Floppy $20 Mil Launch Expected For HIFD, Due To Arrive In Nov.

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Sony Electronics is seeking an agency to handle the $20 million launch of what it hopes will be the successor to today's PC floppy disk drive.

John Heenan, Sony director of advertising marketing services, said the company is talking with Sony shops Lowe & Partners/

SMS, New York; Winkler Advertising, San Francisco; and two other agencies.

Industry executives identified the other two as Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco, and Suissa Miller, Los Angeles.

Sony expects to finish the closed review this week or next.


The marketer, which invented the 31/2-inch floppy, plans to introduce HiFD, a "high capacity floppy disk" that can hold 200 megabytes of information, at Comdex/

Fall in November.

HiFD will go head-on against SuperDisk, a floppy alternative backed by Compaq Computer Corp., Imation, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Mitsubishi Electronics and ORT. SuperDisk and HiFD both can read regular 1.44-megabyte floppy disks, giving the products an advantage over non-compatible storage devices from Iomega Corp. and SyQuest Technology.

The 120-megabyte SuperDisk beat Sony to market and is being offered by such PC powers as Compaq, IBM Corp. and Gateway. Sony hasn't signed any PC makers yet, but it boasts some advantages: Sony has distribution muscle as the No. 1 maker of floppy disks, is a major PC components supplier and is pushing a product that can store more than rivals' devices.


Sony also is prepared to outspend the competition. Imation last month launched a $10 million SuperDisk campaign (AA, April 6). Sony will spend double that in the U.S. in the first 12 months of the HiFD launch, Mr. Heenan said.

"We think it's an enormous opportunity for us," he said. "We're certainly betting the farm on it. Sony is not always first but is always best."

The product will be available in new PCs and as an aftermarket peripheral late this year after Comdex, he said.

Ads will start in November; Sony is mulling what types of ad media to use.

HiFD is a joint project of Sony's Computer Components & Peripherals Group, which works with Winkler, and the Recording Media & Energy Group, which employs Lowe.

Mr. Heenan is managing the closed review without a consultant.

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