What's the Big Idea?

By Published on .

After what seems like aeons, Sony is still flogging the wildly unpopular MiniDisc format, but at least they're doing it these days with a strangely compelling campaign, courtesy of Young & Rubicam/New York and a fuzzy blue alien named Plato.

The initial spate of Plato commercials, with two now on the air and two more to follow, feature the plush hero as a college student. In "Spaceship," the camera follows him as he lands on the campus lawn, but first he downloads tunes onto his authentically futuristic Sony Memory Stick and pops it into his Memory Stick Walkman. The little dude always has headphones on, like a bike messenger. No sooner does he emerge from his craft than the chicks are checking him out in him in a distinctly unplatonic manner. It must be that cutesy-poo stuffed-animal appeal, combined with the fact that he has one really big antenna on his head.

Copywriter Matt Aselton explains the vision behind the spots: "The basic idea is it's always new technology, so he's from the future. We wanted him to be less cute and more menacing." Menacing? He's a furry blue puppet. "He doesn't speak and he's got slits for eyes," Aselton offers in explanation.

Was there any thought of going with computer animation? "We didn't want him to look like JarJar Binks," says creative director Randy van Kleeck. "When you use CGI, it always looks like CGI. Plus there's something to be said for being really obvious about not being real." Although the oversized Muppet doesn't look remotely organic, he's a total babe magnet. "We didn't want him to be the guy in the PG-13 movie that everybody's rooting for," says van Kleeck. "We wanted him to be the guy in the R movie that you're not quite sure about."

What's not to be sure about, besides what he's listening to? In "Dorm," Plato's downloading something onto a minidisc when the hottie in his bed wakes up. She walks over to him and tenderly runs a finger along the deep pile of his head, then he hands her a disc titled "The Audrey Sessions." She's so touched, she makes such ardent goo-goo eyes at him, it's patently clear she wants to bear his children. What'll they be, throw pillows?

"When we presented it, I thought they were going to kill it, but they let it go," van Kleeck recalls with relief. Anyway, five minutes of MTV's SoCal Summer makes this look like an afterschool special."

Client: Sony Electronics Agency: Y&R/New York CD: Nelson Martinez/Randy Van Kleeck AD: Dave Skinner/Hunter Williams CW: Matt Aselton/Darren Wright Agency Producer: Kim Lowell Music Producer: Josh Rabinowitz Editor: Emily Dennis/Zena Sfeir, Mad River Post Sound: Bill Chesley, Amber Music Co, London Production Company: Epoch Films Director: Phil Morrison

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