Y&R Blends Sony ‘Connect Music,’ Products

LOS ANGELES Sony Electronics tonight kicks off its largest marketing push for a single product category with a new spot featuring singer Macy Gray, who is shown strutting with the new Network Walkman Digital Music Player to her cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” a company executive said.

The advertising, by WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam Brands, will encompass more than 24 products that relate to Sony Connect Music Service, often combining the product with the downloading service.

“This is critically important, because we’re not just launching one hard-drive product, but relaunching the Walkman line and an entire range of hardware solutions from $60 to $399,” said Mark Viken, senior vice president of corporate marketing at Sony Electronics in San Diego. “It is a growing, competitive market, and legitimate downloading is in its infancy.”

The 30-second spot, which breaks during Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC tonight, also will run later this week during NBC’s Summer Olympic broadcasts. Directed by music-video veteran Sam Bayer, it combines a performance by Gray, product features and a voiceover touting an “unheard-of 30 hours of battery life.” It ends with the tagline, “Like no other.”

Viken said that the campaign, set to run through February, would often supplement individual spots’ taglines with the “Walk This Way” theme. A brand-image spot selling the whole product line should arrive in the next few weeks, he said.

In the next few months, more than 10 TV, radio, Internet and print executions are due from Y&R’s Irvine, Calif., and New York offices, according to agency CEO Ann Fudge. Creative directors Taras Wayner and Brian McDermott worked under global creative director Michael Patti. Angela Pih is the brand team leader for the agency’s Sony Electronics business.

All of the spots will connect various hardware components to Sony Connect, now selling some 700,000 “label-agnostic tracks,” thus stressing the “the industry’s largest lineup of products that connect to a music service,” said Viken. He added that “a focus on brand placements” through Sony Pictures is in the offing. The Walkman products will get “a very aggressive campaign using the total power of Sony, from its [label] artists to its movie studio,” Viken said.

Sony has sold more than 400 million Walkman-branded items worldwide since the device’s introduction in 1979, Viken added.