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Sony Launches Major Consumer Ad Campaign

Sony Electronics’ fiscal year began this month with one of the company’s most aggressive consumer electronics campaigns, a year-long “full court press” based on the success of last summer’s push behind the BRAVIA and SXRD lines.

While Mike Fasulo, chief marketing officer, did not give a specific budget number for the effort, he told TWICE that Sony will spend “hundreds of millions of dollars” on the campaign that continues until March 2007. “It is our most aggressive marketing campaign ever and last year we were extremely aggressive. We are claiming the top spot by being the leader in HDTV. We’ll be in the market all year long.”

Last summer Sony got “back to ad campaigns” to promote its HDTV lines, Fasulo said “With HDTV we found we have to educate consumers with repetition. The only way you can do that is with campaigns.” As a result of last year’s efforts, BRAVIA LCD and SXRD rear-projection sets were No. 1 in their respective HDTV categories, according to a variety of surveys, Fasulo said.

“There are core categories that we want to drive, and sustain them for months … years,” Fasulo said. The idea is that HDTV is the “umbrella” of Sony’s marketing efforts, with specific programs on HD camcorder and digital cameras, Blu-ray, HDTV’s audio performance, HD content and promotional tie-ins with the new PS3 game system that will feature Blu-ray and new Sony Pictures releases (see story below), he noted.

The Sony effort will be lead by TV ads “which are not dead, by the way. They still work. We will also use ‘live’ events, out-of-the-home advertising such as billboards, malls and high-traffic settings and the Web,” Fasulo said. For instance, with one of the company’s promotions consumers are asked to “submit ads for Sony products in a contest, and so far the submissions look good,” he said.

The goal for much of what Sony is doing with its BRAVIA and SXRD campaign is to “drive consumers to our Web site to get information. We want them to buy the right product. The industry’s shift from analog to digital TV is like going from black-and-white TV to color years ago. Consumers must make an educated decision,” Fasulo said.

And he added, “Customers have a high level of trust with the Sony brand and with that comes responsibility. In consumer studies the words ‘Quality, innovation and design’ are words we own. The challenge we have is to market without confusion. Between Blu-ray, cameras and camcorders, editing your [high-definition] content on your PC is complicated, but also a huge opportunity. We see significant double-digit growth from now until the next several years,” Fasulo said.

The BRAVIA LCD line will continue to be positioned as a “performance, design brand” that is a “fashion statement, a home decoration” targeted to both men and women, as its new TV ads will illustrate. When shown on a DVR, the commercial will pause about 15 seconds to give viewers the option to see the end of the ad from the male or female point of view.

In the SXRD ads, the rear-projection line will be positioned “as a big sound, big video performance product targeting a mostly male, mostly sports focus” with TV ads featuring a “Lo-Def Productions” parity of the famous Duke vs. Kentucky men’s college basketball game from the 1990s with the tag line, “What are you watching?”

Fasulo noted that the Sony ad program “illustrates personality, fun and inspiration, but we can’t compromise quality.”

For instance, the Sony DVD camcorder emphasizes that it is a “family device to preserve memories,” Fasulo said, with parents recording their daughter’s school play. Using a Bluetooth microphone, a $200 value that will be promoted with the camcorder, the daughter becomes the star of the play. The digital still camera ads, dubbed “Unleash Your Muse,” show how Sony cameras have more capabilities than point-and-shoot cameras, and feature their “blur-free” feature.

Fasulo noted that advertising the Sony brand “is the key … We want to drive business, drive premium value. We should drive as many consumers to our [retailers] as possible. If marketing doesn’t drive business, then why do it?”