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Sony Turns to 'Experts' in Latest Campaign

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NEW YORK A panel of celebrity "experts," including Peyton Manning and Justin Timberlake, will give consumers electronics advice in a new campaign Sony hopes will lure shoppers for the holiday season.

The NFL quarterback and pop superstar are joined on the panel by ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, photographer and America's Next Top Model judge Nigel Barker, author/comedian Amy Sedaris and cinematographer Dion Beebe.

The campaign includes broadcast, online, radio and newspaper advertising. Online, Timberlake and Manning will guide visitors to the appropriate product category and corresponding expert at SonyStyle.com

In the first commercial, breaking in September on TV and the Web, Timberlake and Manning help a family shop for a television set in an electronics store. When the father looks at a wall of units and complains he sees no difference, the wall opens to reveal the panel of experts. The stars show off their skills at Ping-Pong as the group discusses the superior quality of watching sports on Sony's Bravia HDTV.

"The more sports you watch on a Sony the better you get at sports," says Timberlake, to which Manning responds, "My Chinese has improved too." After triumphing at ping-pong, Timberlake taunts Manning: "Your Mandarin is rusty at best." The campaign is tagged, "It's in our DNA."

Each commercial matches an expert to a product category in his or her general area of expertise. Sedaris, for example, will discuss the Sony Reader e-book system. Barker endorses Sony's Alpha and Cyber-shot cameras. And another commercial for the Vaio adds Verizon's "Can you hear me now?" guy to highlight the notebook's wireless capabilities.

"These different characters we picked to be in the panel are representative of the best in class in those fields, just as Sony represents best in class in electronics," said William Gelner, ecd at Los Angeles agency 180. "They lend credibility to those messages and do it in a way that is fun, entertaining and memorable."

Client director of brand messaging Alberto Escobedo said the campaign showcases Sony's quality across various product lines, and with the help of the celebrity panelists "puts Sony top of mind no matter which area you are interested in."

The campaign expands on a creative concept used in a Bravia ad last year in which a panel of experts including Manning, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and sportscaster James Brown gave a sports fan advice about buying a TV.

The expert theme will carry through to in-store merchandising for authorized Sony dealers, including retail video and displays.