Sony Gets ‘Back to Storytelling’

Sony Electronics this year will funnel more than $100 million into three campaigns from Young & Rubicam tagged, “Dream on,” eschewing a product-driven approach that produced spots varying in look and feel.

One effort, for home-entertainment products, is set in a hobby shop and has an escapist feel. Another, for personal networking, shows either monks or roommates communicating via laptops and digital cameras. The third, for portable audio, continues to feature the fuzzy blue alien “Plato.”

“We’re getting back to story-telling,” said Scott Edwards, svp, brand and marketing communications group at Sony in Park Ridge, N.J. It’s also the first time in 15 years that Sony has used a single tagline across all ads. Back then — when McCann-Erickson was Sony’s lead agency in the U.S. — the tag was “It’s a Sony.”

Each new Y&R campaign features three TV spots and several print ads.

Some of the work, such as “Monks,” from Y&R in Irvine, Calif., has already broken. The rest, from Y&R in New York, is still in production, including a pre-Christmas holiday spot being directed by Joe Pytka. That ad, which depicts an Army corporal stationed far from home, uses the Joni Mitchell song “The River,” sung by actor Robert Downey Jr.

Sony’s new tag seeks to convey the experience of using the company’s products, said John Partilla, managing partner on Sony at Y&R here. It also harkens back to “Do you dream in Sony,” a line Y&R used in its first Sony work three years ago.

The home-electronics campaign, which breaks this week, shows people visiting a shop called, “Joy, Mirth and Merriment.” Inside are toys from yesteryear, such as a pinball machine.

In each spot, something falls to the floor and leads to a red curtain, which opens to reveal a dreamlike scene. In “Kite,” the curtain reveals a field of red pinwheels, which are set in motion when the shopkeeper clicks on a Wega TV. A voiceover explains, “You don’t watch TV, you feel it. In a place called Sony.”

Y&R’s 2000 work ranged from showing a motorcyclist’s outdoor experience to a crotchety grandpa downloading photos of his grandchildren.