Sony Eyes Massive 2000 Image Effort

As Agencies Turn Up in $40 Mil. U.S. Review, More May Be at Stake
NEW YORK–Three agencies have emerged as contenders for Sony Electronics’ estimated $40 million ad account in a review that may have broader implications as the client plans to globalize its image for the millennium.
J. Walter Thompson, Foote, Cone & Belding and Young & Rubicam, all in New York, are pursuing the U.S. account, which was previously handled by Lowe & Partners/SMS here, sources said. Other agencies may also be in the running.
Agencies received briefs from the client two weeks ago and are gearing up for August presentations. A decision is expected in September. The review was triggered in part by Sony’s satisfaction with Y&R’s global ads [Adweek, June 22].
But a potentially larger ad prize looms as Sony Corp. plans a massive global image initiative, dubbed the “Millennium Project,” that sources said would position its far-flung electronics, music and software empire as the leading lifestyle and technology brand for the 21st Century. Sony declined comment.
Sources said the unprecedented multimillion dollar initiative is expected to include ads, promotions and event marketing. The goal is to elevate the Sony brand and unify units that have long been disparate and often warring fiefdoms.
Sony’s global ad partners, Dentsu in Japan and Y&R, are expected to play a major role in the project, slated to launch in 1999, but other shops’ ideas could be included.
“It’s part of the overall strategy to move Sony and its advertising and public relations to a whole new level that addresses the millennium and Sony’s brand leadership,” a source said.
Y&R continues to work on its “Do you dream in Sony?” campaign, launched in the spring. The agency has aired two TV spots and a handful of print efforts, with more ads expected before year’s end.
Y&R declined comment, but sources said future work will retain the “Dream” tagline.
Work on the Millennium Project began quietly more than a year ago when Sony corporate in Tokyo recruited Dentsu, Y&R and public relations shop Cohn & Wolfe to research the effort. It is unknown if Sony’s movie studios will be part of the effort.
–with Hank Kim and Sloane Luca