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Blu-ray Launches Salvo in HD DVD War

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NEW YORK The latest salvo from backers of the Blu-ray high-definition DVD format takes the form of a 30-second HD spot launched as the holiday shopping season gets under way.

Backing the initiative is a group of software and hardware companies, including Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros.

The spot will air on channels such as Discovery HD, HDNet and INHD, and its debut coincides with last week's ballyhooed arrival of Sony's PlayStation 3 video game platform, which includes a Blu-ray disc player.

Created by WPP Group's SicolaMartin, the commercial features movie scenes, animation and surround sound, all designed to highlight Blu-ray's content, recording and storage capabilities.

The ad targets early adopters via "the right side of the brain that experiences emotion and makes them want to buy and the left side that gives techno-geeky factoids that they thrive on," said Steve Martin, svp, executive creative director at Austin, Texas-based SicolaMartin.

Martin identified the ideal Blu-ray consumer as a 34-year-old father in the $100,000 income bracket.

The campaign's theme is "Experience Blu," a nod to "more targeted and experiential marketing," said Tim Baxter, svp, strategic marketing at Sony.

Blu-ray's TV effort builds on a broader campaign begun in May and aimed at the nation's estimated 28 million HDTV owners. Print and interactive elements are also in the mix.

Meanwhile, the rival HD DVD camp is tailoring its holiday efforts to broadband and print outlets for movie and technology enthusiasts—and postponing a possible television buy until spring 2007, when a critical mass of players and discs are expected to reach consumers, said Ken Graffeo, evp of marketing at Universal Studios Home Video. (The second generation of HD DVD players hits stores in December and 250 titles are expected out by April, he said.)

Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, working for the North American HD DVD Promotional Group, helms that effort.

Themed, "The look and sound of perfect," the HD DVD push touts interactivity, combined standard/hi-def capabilities and state-of-the-art picture and audio quality—all subjects of a touring exhibition in an 18-wheeler.

The work targets mainly 30-49-year-old male consumers. Hollywood directors may appear in upcoming ads. Thus far, Hollywood craftspeople, such as pyrotechnic pros, have been featured.

Earlier this month, the promotional group expanded its mid-October foray into consumer publications like Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone. The initial phase of the campaign ran in trade publications like Variety.

While HD DVD media planners have holiday shoppers in mind, they seem less impressed than their Blu-ray counterparts.

"I wouldn't say that the holiday season is the only time we care about," said Goodby account director Todd Grantham. "It's more the long-term idea of growing the awareness and consideration of this platform."