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

Two become one in W+K's anthem

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