Y&R Lands ‘Plato’ for Walkman in $30 Mil. Effort

He’s short, big-headed and blue-faced. But women seem to love him.
Meet “Plato,” the star of Sony Electronics’ most ambitious campaign ever for its Walkman brand. The $30 million effort from Young & Rubicam breaks this week and includes cable TV spots, print ads, a new Web site, banner ads, promotions, posters and postcards.
“Spaceship,” the first of four TV spots, shows Plato landing his fish-shaped craft on a college campus. He emerges, class schedule in hand, while a new Cypress Hill song throbs into his headset. In the end, a voiceover intones, “The Walkman has landed.”
Spots debuting later place Plato in a language lab, inside his dorm room and in a courtyard. In each setting, he seems cool and a bit of a cad, and Plato doesn’t speak. But onlookers are drawn to him, if only to check out his audio equipment.
“There’s a certain mystique,” explained Cory Basso, managing partner at Y&R. “We don’t want him to become a Happy Meal character.”
Plato’s look and personality came from months of research into the Generation-Y target audience. The agency interviewed 125 12- to 24-year-olds, collecting data on their likes, dislikes and hobbies.
The overall goal was to reinvent the brand, which many still associate with bright yellow cassette players, said Scott Edwards, svp, marketing communications at Sony
Electronics in Park Ridge, N.J. And since Plato is an alien, he defies typecasting and has a broad appeal, Edwards said.
To bring the 3-foot-11-inch puppet to life, Y&R took an understated approach, said executive creative director Ross Sutherland. “I like the fact that he lands on Earth and just goes about being a normal person,” Sutherland said.
He added: “It’s an interesting start. It’s our job to keep up the momentum now.” K