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Sony Bullish On Holidays, New Ad Push

Sony Electronics reviewed its current market performance on the eve of the holiday selling season and outlined ambitious advertising plans for the balance of the year during a press roundtable at the Sony Building, here, last Tuesday.

Stan Glasgow, president of consumer sales, commented that Sony Electronics is “very bullish about holiday sales.” While not mentioning by name the Consumer Electronics Association’s holiday sales report (see p. 52), which shows a 9 percent gain in overall industry growth, studies like it match Sony’s positive view.

“We expect explosive growth in HD and digital imaging” with HDTV sales “driving way beyond current levels,” he noted. “What we find interesting is the shift in consumer buying to higher-priced items. If prices seem reasonable to consumers, they are buying flat-panel, plasma and LCD HDTVs.”

Glasgow added, “Sony Electronics in the U.S. had the best October in its history. Sales exploded in a bunch of new products.

We have seen amazing strength in LCD and DVD camcorders.” He noted that the LCD BRAVIA line that was introduced two months ago “has taken over the No. 1 position in the U.S. in [dollar sales of] LCD, 38 percent.” Grand Vega rear projection has 50 percent in dollar share, Glasgow claimed.

In camcorders Sony issued a press release claiming that it is the first company to sell more than 1 million DVD camcorders. It quotes NPD Intelect research that the DVD format now accounts for 22 percent of the camcorder market and that Sony DVD Handycam camcorders claim 85 percent of that part of the market. Sony’s overall camcorders share, again based on NPD numbers, is 50 percent.

In other categories, such as digital cameras, “the battle remains,” as Glasgow put it, with Sony competing with Kodak and Fuji for the No. 1 spot. And in headphones, Sony has a 44 percent dollar share of the market, with the brand controlling nine of the top ten SKUs in the United States.

As for holiday retail promotions, Sony is becoming as aggressive as Wal-Mart and “other members of the retail community” as many chains plan to “match their strengths with Sony. We plan to take a prime position at retail.” As for the budget that Sony Electronics is spending on holiday advertising, Glasgow and Mike Fasulo, chief marketing officer, only said it was a “multimillion dollar” effort.

Sony is using the synergy with its various parts for this aggressive retail stance. For instance, Fasulo said that Wheel of Fortune, a production of Sony Pictures Television, has signed an agreement with Sony Electronics, Circuit City Stores and Sony Card Marketing & Service to introduce the “Sony Winner Wonderland Sweepstakes.” Ten Wheel of Fortune viewers will win $25,000 worth of products from Sony Electronics for their home.

From Nov. 27 through Dec. 11, nine million preprinted “Winner Wonderland Sweepstakes” game pieces will be available at 620 Circuit City retail stores nationwide. The games feature discount coupons good through Jan. 31, 2006. During the week of Dec. 12-16 Bonus Puzzle Solutions will be revealed. When a match is made viewers can mail in the game piece or submit it online.

As part of Sony’s multimillion dollar holiday advertising effort, Fasulo said that Sony Style gift cards will be offered in 30 locations nationwide, as well as the retail division’s Web site.

And “freestanding inserts, which are quite successful from brand perspective, will be used to educate consumers and send them to retail with a product SKU in mind.” Up to 28 million circulars will hit the top 28 markets in the United States, using local newspapers and USA Today in December, he said.

Print, radio and TV will be part of the media blitz with “all ads turning consumers to our URL to educate them about our products and technology,” Fasulo said.

Among the lines that will be the focus of Sony’s campaign will be SXRD and BRAVIA HDTVs, Vaio and the way the PC line can help edit personal videos, a new “edgy” ad campaign for Walkman and wireless headphones.