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Walkman, Home Entertainment Take Center Stage In Sony Campaign

NEW YORK — Sony marketing and advertising plans for the year will attempt to accomplish several tasks including re-associating the Walkman brand with the company.

Peggy Ang, Sony’s senior manager of brand and marketing, said the point of part of the campaign will be to reintroduce customers to the fact that the Walkman brand belongs to Sony. Since its introduction in 1979, the word “Walkman” has become synonymous with portable audio, but younger consumers may not know it is a Sony brand.

“We want to reclaim the Walkman brand for Sony and reintroduce it to the Gen Y audience,” said Ang. Generation Y is defined as those currently 12 to 24 years old.

The Walkman ads are all centered on the adventures of an alien named PLATO that was introduced to consumers in a few commercials last year. PLATO will appear in four TV spots and three print ads this year that have him leading the life of a typical college kid who uses Sony’s portable audio devices, Ang said.

Including the Walkman ads, Sony will bring its message to the general public through 12 TV commercials slated to run for the balance of the year and a print ad campaign. These will continue the company’s tradition of putting a different “face” on its product categories, said Scott Edwards, Sony’s senior vice president for brand marketing.

Sony’s HDTV and Wega televisions each have two TV commercials slotted to run with the remainder covering the Vaio and Handycam, as well as the home entertainment product families. For the latter products, Sony and its ad firm Young & Rubicam developed a special venue dubbed “A Place Called Sony” to introduce consumers to not only the products, but the feeling Sony hopes these devices might invoke in consumers. In all of the “A Place Called Sony” commercials the scene starts in a small shop where the person is led off to a somewhat mystical encounter with a particular product. “A Place Called Sony is not just feature related, but a platform holding campaign that deepens the emotional bond between Sony and their core consumers,” John Partilla, a managing partner of Young & Rubicam.

Sony is also planning to run a string of print ads for its Super Audio CD player line this year. These will be planted mainly in audiophile magazines.

On the retail front Sony will continue to invest in retail direct marketing by developing point-of-sale material, in-store kiosks and advertising slicks. In addition, the company wants to better utilize the customer sales data developed by itself and the retailers. Edwards said Sony intends to mine this information to better understand its customers and send them targeted marketing information.