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Sony Electronics Eyes Q2 Search

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Some shops tried, without success, to reach suddenly single Sony Electronics last week. But they won't have to wait much longer to take a crack at the client, which does intend to launch a search, sources said.

The brief is likely to request ideas for a new brand campaign, a key component of the client's 2005 marketing thrust, sources said. "I'm sure they'll move quickly; they can't waste too much time," said one source, noting that Sony Electronics' contract with Young & Rubicam, Irvine, Calif., expires on the last day of the advertiser's fiscal year on March 31.

Per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, the San Diego-based maker of the Vaio computer, Walkman CD players and other products spends about $150 million annually in the U.S.

Sources said dissatisfaction with branding ideas from Y&R was what led to the client's decision last week to end that seven-year relationship. The WPP Group shop's contract is tied to Sony Electronics' fiscal year and also expires March 31. Account-team and creative turnover in the Y&R office in the past year also contributed, sources said.

A key client executive in the search is likely to be Mark Viken, svp and general manager of corporate marketing.

Publicis Groupe's Fallon in Minneapolis, which handles Sony Electronics in Europe, is considered a likely contender. Omnicom Group's TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., handles the Sony PlayStation. When the account was last in review, in 1998, Interpublic Group's Foote Cone & Belding, New York, was one finalist. Another, WPP's JWT in New York, is now conflicted with Samsung.

In recent years, Sony has often united various products in its ads. Most recently, a digital-camera spot starring rocker Steven Tyler ran during the holidays.