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Ad of the Day: Sony Traces Its Long, Winding Road of Art and Engineering

Two become one in W+K's anthem

Spike Lee is one of several familiar faces in the spot.

Sony really wants you to know just how relevant it is.

The legacy tech behemoth is out with an ambitious new 90-second anthem spot from Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., that draws on a star-studded cast to illustrate just how far the brand's reach extends.

Everyone remembers that Sony invented the Walkman. This ad is smart to start by capitalizing on that familiarity. It's also smart to fast forward to the present, where DJ Cassidy, signed to Sony-owned Columbia Records, plays with one of the brand's tablets. Directed by Stacy Wall and shot in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo, the ensuing montage manages to pack in cameos from child actress Quvenzhane Wallis, who will star in Sony Pictures' new rendition of Annie, actor Grizz Chapman of 30 Rock, and Spike Lee, shooting on a Sony camera and name-checking PlayStation. In other words, it's a major production loaded with rich and specific examples of Sony's history and cultural influence, that all come together to show the company has actually stayed closely linked to the experiences audiences actually care about.

It's far from the first tech company to try to bring to life products that can seem cold or complicated. Apple's tone, though, can come across as pretentious—it wants to be the blisteringly cool company that is inventing the future. And Google can often feel excessively sentimental—it wants to be the awesomely geeky company that is intensifying all the most important moments in your life. Sony benefits from the diversity of its business, but nonetheless, its approach keeps the message playful, and ultimately charming—it wants to be the old friend that makes sure you are having fun at the party. And the anthem's titular, feel-good soundtrack, the Who's 1972 hit "Join Together," does a great job of anchoring that message of belonging.

The new campaign also includes shorter, goofy product-centric videos that fall somewhere between amusing and awkward—using, for example, a metaphor about popping your eyes out of your head to peddle a detachable smartphone camera lens. A little more hammy grandpa jokes than the life of the party. And yes, the anthem's breathless fascination with the meeting of art and engineering feels a little contrived. But it does succeed at fitting into the zeitgeist of "innovation" without leaning on a hackneyed buzzword. More important, for most of the spot, the script stays out of the way, letting the film craft, which is quite deft, build to the voiceover's punch line—that Sony has always been about "making you feel something"—and the ad's tagline, "Be moved."

So go on, feel something: the vague but slightly unsettling pleasantness of a well-made sales pitch.

CREDITS
Client: Sony
Spot: "Join Together"

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Creative Directors: Mike Giepert / Chris Mitton
Copywriter: Chris Mitton
Art Director: Mike Giepert / Matt Moore
Producer: Jennie Lindstrom
Account Team: Diana Gonzalez / Trish Adams / Nick Larkin
Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Susan Hoffman
Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz

Production Company: Imperial Woodpecker
Director: Stacy Wall
Executive Producer: Doug Halbert
Line Producer: Timory King
Director of Photography: Mihai Malaimare, Jr.

Editorial Company: Joint Editorial / Work Editorial
Executive Producer: Patty Brebner / Corina Dennison + Erica Thompson
Editor: Peter Wiedensmith / Rich Orrick
Asst. Editor: Steve Sprinkel / Adam Witten + Patrick Murphree
Post Producer: Ryan Shanholtzer / Olivia Chiu

VFX Company: The Mill – Los Angeles
Sr. Exec. Producer: Sue Troyan
Producer: Dan Roberts
Production Coordinator: Jesse Looney + David Lawrence
Creative Director + Shoot Supervisor: Phil Crowe
Matte Painting: Thom Price
2D Lead Artist: John Shirley
3D Lead Artist: David Lawson
2D Artists: Becky Porter / Nick Tayler / Ben Smith / Remedy Huynh
3D Artists: Milton Ramirez / Siran Liu / Martin Rivera / Blake Guest / Hartwell Durfor / Blake Sullivan / Miguel Guerrero / Danny Yoo / Krystal Sae Eua / Fabrice Le Nezet / Brett Angelillis
Motion Graphics: Justin Demetrician
Art Support: Clare Carrellas

Telecene Company: The Mill
Colorist: Adam Scott
Executive Producer: LaRue Anderson
Producer: Natalie Westerfield

Music
"Join Together (Izzie Twins Unchained Remix)" by the Who

Sound Design Company: Human

Mix Company: Lime
Mixer: Rohan Young
Asst. Mixer: Jeff Malen
Producer: Jessica Locke

Credits for the online spots:

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Creative Directors: Mike Giepert / Chris Mitton
Copywriter: Derek Szynal
Art Director: Mike Giepert  / Devin Gillespie
Producer: Jennie Lindstrom
Account Team: Diana Gonzalez / Trish Adams / Nick Larkin
Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Susan Hoffman
Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz

PRODUCTION
Production Company: Imperial Woodpecker
Director: Stacy Wall
Executive Producer: Doug Halbert
Line Producer: Timory King
Director of Photography: Mihai Malaimare, Jr.

Editorial Company: Joint Editorial  / Work Editorial (Skeptics Only)
Executive Producer: Patty Brebner / Corina Dennison + Erica Thompson (Skeptics Only)
Editor: Katie Turinski + Steve Sprinkel / Patrick Murphree (Skeptics Only)
Asst. Editor: Steve Sprinkel 
Post Producer: Ryan Shanholtzer / Olivia Chiu (Skeptics Only)

VFX Company: The Mill – Los Angeles
Sr. Exec. Producer: Sue Troyan
Producer: Dan Roberts
Production Coordinator: David Lawrence
Creative Director + Shoot Supervisor: Phil Crowe
2D Lead Artist: Robin McGloin, Nick Tayler
Motion Graphics: Justin Demetrician
Art Support: Clare Carrellas

Telecene Company: CO3
Colorist: Siggy Ferstl

Music
"Eyeballs"
"The Whistlin' Duck (feat. Theo Mertens)" by Bobbejaan Schoepen
"Inventing Furniture" + "Floor Plan"
"Moon Waltz" from the motion picture Beginners by Brian Reitzell, Dave Palmer and Roger Neil
"Skeptics"
"Theme" from the motion picture Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind by Jon Brion

Mix Company: Lime
Mixer: Rohan Young
Asst. Mixer: Jeff Malen
Producer: Jessica Locke

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