The Wait is Over: Sony Chooses BBDO and 180

Marketer's $56 Million Electronics Account had Been in Flux for a Year

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Sony electronics is moving its U.S. ad business to a team composed of independent 180 and Omnicom Group's BBDO, according to executives familiar with the situation.

The account has been a topic of speculation since the consumer-electronics manufacturer split with WPP Group's Y&R in February 2005. A review held after the split resulted in a roster of three agencies: Havas' McKinney, Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide and independent Bagby & Co. Fallon split with Sony last November, and Chief Marketing Officer Mike Fasulo had been expected to once again shake up the roster.

It was not immediately clear whether McKinney will remain on the roster.

Sony Electronics spent $56 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

BBDO and 180 also work together for Motorola, the former employer of Stuart Redsun, Sony Electronics' senior VP-corporate marketing, who reports to Mr. Fasulo.

BBDO declined to comment. The other agencies referred calls to a Sony representative who declined to comment.

The agency shift in the electronics division comes as parent Sony Corp. seeks a branding agency of its own, in a search led by corporate CMO Andrew House. Sony is also dealing with financial disappointments, most notably a 94% drop in profit, which was reported in its most recent fiscal second quarter.

The loss was blamed in part on a global recall of fire-hazardous laptop computer batteries. That PR crisis has already cost the company more than $429 million. To make matters worse, manufacturing delays for both the PlayStation 3 video-game platform and Blu-ray high-definition DVD player have moved back release dates and significantly decreased the number of boxes available for sale during the important fourth-quarter retail season.

Sony also recently lowered forecasted sales of its handheld gaming device, PlayStation Portable, from 12 million to 9 million units for the year.
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