The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Bastard Love Child Of American Beauty And 21 Grams …
October 3, 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: Comment

So here’s our latest commercial for SONY – this time for their range of high-definition products.

I have to say this project has been especially interesting for me … not least because this category seems already to have become stagnant despite being relatively new.

Most manufacturers have been spending billions of bucks advertising their HD televisions all using the same core idea of Pictures So Good, You’ll Feel Like You’re There’ … however apart from the fact this severely limits brand differentiation, it has also led to consumer confusion.

1 Many people assume HD is only available in televisions.

People assume HD only means ‘improved visual experience’ when it also benefits areas like sound quality and signal distribution.

3 Many people assume all flat screen televisions are HD. [which isn’t true]

People aren’t aware there are different levels of HD ‘power’ – so while all give a better visual experience than standard definition – you could still end up spending a fortune on something that is not as good as you expected/wanted.

OK … I should point out that many manufacturers have handled these issues via magazine editorial &/or POS – however I am surprised that interms of mainstream communication, they seem to have all followed the same path.

Alright, so there’s a couple of brands that have tried something new with their advertising – but apart from Fallon’s ‘TESTED’ campaign for SONY Europe, the rest are still pretty much in the same area as the rest of the category – they’ve just been executed differently. [I’m thinking of Sharp’s “Nothing Gets Lost” campaign and Samsung’s “Black”]

The Fallon campaign is of particular interest to me because while I appreciate the ‘extravaganza’ of it all – I can’t help but feel it is rather self-indulgent.  

For me that ad is more a showcase of how great something looks and sounds when you have full HD rather than an ad for it.  It’s the sort of thing I’d use in retail outlets rather than run on national television, but hey, that’s just me …

billy connolly futurist 1

When we were first given this assignment, our initial strategy was influenced by a joke by Billy Connelly.

He said …

“Why do television manufacturers advertise on television because surely if the picture they are ‘flogging’ looks good on their home TV, there’s no reason for them to buy another one” 

and so what we wanted to do was create crappy looking/sounding ads and then tell people the only way they could get the full HD experience was if they went to the retailer – however for a myriad of reasons [some I accept, some I don’t] that idea didn’t see the light of day, which I still think is a shame.

So after exploring all sorts of insights and avenues [including the fact that we believe more HD televisions will be sold because of PS3 / XBOX 360 than ads – and that when HD products are purchased, people will be more inclined to upgrade their other A/V products because they’ll be used to a ‘minimum standard’ of experience and old formats won’t be able to deliver it] we went back to the core insight behind the overall FEEL strategy and developed a core idea around the thought of ‘There’s Extraordinary In The Ordinary’ [or expressed as a convoluted advertising prop: SONY HD lets you experience a higher definition of the World around you]

As usual I want to point out this is only an ad … there are lots of other things that have been done, have to be done and are going to be done [covering all channels – including a lovely ‘blurred bridge’ idea as well as a ‘book of simple pleasures’ which I hope to be able to write about soon] to ensure people don’t walk past the SONY HD range of products  … however interms of maintaining the overall core strategy and developing an ad that isn’t screaming the usual HD shite, I’m quite pleased with it but as usual, I’d be interested to hear what you think.

Right, I’m off to catch a plane so speak soony …

[PS: If you are wondering why this post has that title, I suggest you check out the movies of the same name – all will become clear, ha!]

[PPS: I know the end shot on the commercial looks dark, it’s not like that really – it’s just the compression of Youtube]

40 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Will you stop underselling the quality of ”traditional ads” you’re doing for Sony because this is really good and bang on strategy. I’m sure the ”bigger idea” work is fantastic, but that doesn’t mean your TVC shouldn’t be celebrated 🙂

Comment by Pete

Hey Rob, you already know what I think of this ad… watching it again, I’m drawn to the moment where the close up of the leaf comes into focus. Coupled with the music continually moving to a higher range and the voice over, it’s brilliant. Congrats to you and the team. I hope to see it running on TV in Australia!!!

Oh, I’m on the market for a HD TV at the moment (thanks to Fifa 08 on Xbox360 for your insight!), can you ask Sony to release a nice 32inch Bravia that isn’t $2000?!

Comment by Age

What sweeties you are … and Age, I hope you think this is better than that ‘monstrosity’ we talked about a while back. [Sort of demonstrates the benefit of having planners doesn’t it, haha!]

Comment by Rob

thats the sort of comment campbell that normally puts me in a violent rage, but you actually do deserve some of the praise. for once.

its a nice spot, not the best ive ever seen (then i didnt write it) but for hd, sony and asia its yet another great stride forward so well done to you all.

lets hope certain people have learnt some valuable lessons from this whole episode and if they havent, im sure youll never miss the chance to fucking remind them. 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

omg that one was terrible! I actually got worried watching it because I remembered you saying you were working on an ad for Sony at the time!

Comment by Age

Lovely spot my dear, but please put me out my misery and tell me who the voiceover artiste is.

Comment by Wayne Green

I understand Age … but if you knew me better, you’d know I would blow up people before my name would be associated with something like that.

Hello Wayne you upper-class toff – you OK? Can’t remember the voiceover guys name but I know he plays Eva Longoria’s ‘Sugar Daddy’ in Desperate Housewives.

I’d like to say we chose him because of the rounded tone in his voice but it’s probably more to do with the fact we could pretend we’d got close to Eva – bit like how I feel close to Angelina Jolie because I once found myself next to Billy Bob Thornton in an LA toilet.

[Not in the George Michael sense – so don’t get too excited Wayne! Ha]

Comment by Rob

Hi Rob,

I love the idea of ‘ordinary to extraordinary’. Especially when ‘extraordinary’ is always out there and people just miss noticing it!!

This idea really does put ‘boring HD’ in new a perspective of what it is / does, and for me this is what makes it nice to watch and stand out.

[Super execution, my fav part is the woman’s head / hair with the building in the background; as if something interesting is gonna happen right at that moment]

Somehow I feel that this idea cab be exploded [apart from traditional medium] and that’s what you guys are gonna do 


Comment by bhaskar

Admit it, you’re trying to make ordinary trendy so you can feel cool. I can see right through you Rob. 🙂

Comment by Bazza

I like the idea of “a higher definition”, to try and hint at the benefits of 1080p.

Its nicely produced, and the message is good. Some of those shots are really effective.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

thats the most unenthusiastic comment ive ever heard mortimer. if you think its shit, say it, you wont hurt my feelings (i didnt do it) and quite frankly, campbell could do with being brought down a peg or 12.

Comment by andy@cynic

I dont think its shit, not the most amazing ad ever; but for Sony (esp in Asia) its a great piece of work.

Its early morning… difficult to be enthusiastic then!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

so basically you are copying what i said eh, mortimer. smart lad, youll go far.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m bored of this kind of stuff. Sorry. I know it’s not meant for the European market, and I know that I know fuck all about the Asian market but it, surprisingly, doesn’t ring my bell.

I do, however, like the pace of it and I think the script is kind of ok, but for me it doesn’t stand out from the HD crowd (but again, that maybe different in Asia, I don’t know).

I really like the orginal idea that got basted by the client. It surprising that noone has actually played with the technical difference between the old and new. If my memory serves me right, I heard a story about a TV show, where a chrachter held up a sign with a message on it – but you could read what was on the sign if you had a HD TV.

If those of us over 35, who could possibly forget watching snooker in black and white; “the dark grey ball next to the light grey ball”. I can actually remember when dad brought home the colour television it was an amazing experience and one I’m missing in this segment.


Comment by Marcus

Oh, and Andy, I’m off to the largest beer festival in the world today. Fancy coming along?

Comment by Marcus

if you could ask all the krauts to fuck off, ill be there with bells on.

i understand what youre saying about the ad but i still think youre being harsh, but the original strat was a fucking killer as were some of the subsequent ones but common sense isnt that fucking common in corporateland so i still tip my hat to rob and the team for getting this brand moving in the right direction for seemingly the first time in a decade.

(remember that campbell, im being nice to you)

Comment by andy@cynic

Can’t watch the ad at work, something wrong with flash…..but you’re all being very constructive.
Except for Andy’d views on Germans that is.

Comment by NP

you could have been a contender np, but theres no way im being fucking friends with a german supporting planner. what next, sensitive australian media people?

Comment by andy@cynic

I’ve never commented on this blog but read it regulary and wanted to say it’s campaigns like this that can help Asia advance in their advertising standards so that maybe one day they can become a powerhouse in World communication as they are in many other categories.
I’ve lived and worked here for 8 years and can count the number of quality commercials that have come from the region on 2 hands. This spot is definitely one of them as are your other Sony spots. I like it, well done to all involved.

Comment by Andrew Hutchings

I have to agree with Andrew…ahem 😉

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

I have a soft spot for lost causes – look where I work.

Comment by NP

As we’re basically addressing a technical benefit, I really like the directness of Marcus’s “now you see it now you don’t” idea, but I also really like the strategic idea and the images here.

Not being a wizard advertising exec myselfand because he seemed to be asking for them, I sent a couple of knit-picking questions to Rob based on my immediate reaction to viewing it at 12.30 last night. He now wants me to put them here (probably to see how much they get slammed). They were

1) Starting the voiceover with the adjectives plain and ugly jarred a little with me – I think because they conjured up the phrase “plain ugly” and because ugly more than the other adjectives is loaded with potential nastiness rather than a genuine visual reaction since it’s most normally used as an insult. I can’t rationalise this any more than that.

2) I also wondered why the voiceover didn’t start at the top of the spot – I can guess at the reasoning but my thought was that when you start hearing the questions, you start thinking about them and the implications straight away so the impact of the idea is elongated and the beauty of the images is more evident. I may be wrong but I think if people aren’t grabbed right away they can zone out and miss the message entirely because our eyeballs are far less glued to the screen than they used to be – even if we’re seemingly watching an any risk of losing them should be avoided.

What do the experts say?

Comment by John

experts? on here? you pissed john? oh hang on, i am one but fuck it, ill let the kids have a go, im good like that.
np youre back in the fold, i like your style much better than that swedish creeping fuck, fred.
now i am going to see what the fuck is going on in the big bad world so catch you later fuckers.

Comment by andy@cynic

Who will take on John’s questions?
With Andy lurking on this blog, it’ll be a braver person than me. 🙂
Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

Actually John (for 2), if the voiceover was right at the start people would zone out before the end. Whereas they have an initial look…then the voice…then the closing.

It keeps it much better paced and watchable having a gap before the voice.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I like it.

I’m with Marcus in that I much prefer the original idea of creating crappy looking/sounding ads, and on seeing Balls and Paint wondered why on earth they didn’t do that instead, but I can understand it’s an idea that would be hard to get through.

I love the area of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary and I love the script.

I would need the rest of the package that you hint at in order to overcome those barriers that exist in me – thinking all HD is the same and thinking HD is just about visuals and mainly on TV – but this is lovely work that pulls me in.

Well done Rob and co.

I still, however, want more clarity on what Sony stands for. Believes in. Is. And if this is now it – ordinary into extraordinary – brilliant, go for it, bring it to life even more. But until now I don’t yet have clarity on why Sony, other than, ‘feels like it’d be better quality’ which feels a bit bland. That might just be me. Or a regional thing.

Comment by Angus

Hello Angus. There’s a link in the above post that takes you to a section where the boys explain what the “new” meaning of Sony is. I think you have to look through the comments but I’m sure its there as well as an explanation its still early days.
Glad you like the spot.

Comment by Bazza

Oh man, I am always late for commenting. But here are my words of warmness. In some points I have to agree with Marcus. It’s not groundbreaking or absolutely different to what other competitors say and do (but that’s my limited European point of view even more limited by my unbelievable limited brain). Especially to Samsung or Panasonic (not sure) who have the “see more” campaign.
BUT I like the pace and atmosphere of the ad. Especially as I am really bored of all the funny illustrative, colourful explosive or highly expensive “let’s put a whole Roman army into that blue light to show how many hours of entertainment fit on a Blueray…” kind of ads. To be quiet and poetic definitely is a great way to communicate the “feel” idea.
To cut that short: it’s good to try a different way to communicate HD than just roll big. Maybe it could have been more poetic but I guess the original script was as far as I know Andy. that romantic hack.

Comment by Seb

Hello folks … sorry for the lack of comments, it’s been a very long [and not so toptastic] day and I’ve only just got back online.

OK, I am really glad people generally like the commercial but I also accept the comments by both Marcus and Seb – though their view [as they both pointed out] is obviously based on European communication.

The sad thing is this sort of ad is still rather ‘new’ in Asia because clients tend to prefer more ‘rational’ approaches because the cultural value system dictates their role/goal is to please their bosses, not their customers.

[Shocking eh, see what we have to deal with :)]

I know this ad is not something ‘new’ and I do maintain it is just an ‘ad’ … however for SONY, Asia and – I still maintain HD in general – it is a step in the right direction, though still requires many other things to truly bring it to life [including blatantly rational messages the closer you get to the point of purchase]

Anyway, I’m glad people feel they can say what they think because I’ve never wanted this blog to be some lovefest – but with Andy around, I doubt that could ever happen, ha!

Right, back to the grindstone …

PS: Welcome to Andrew Hutchings – hope you come back and comment again soon!

Comment by Rob

For Asia this is superb, you’re right Rob. But don’t undersell it. It’s good stuff.

Thanks Bazza, will check that out. As I said, I’m aware that my confusion about Sony might be a regional specific thing.

Comment by Angus

I would like to go on record and say I am not boring. Thank you. Lets hope that puts this issue to rest now Angus 😉

Comment by George

I just read the stuff around the feel campaign. If anybody wants to read more about the phenomenon of media and technology making us feel, you shoulf read thomas de zongotita’s mediated. it’s been around a while but it explored just the thing, that people experience nowadays only via media and tech.

Comment by niko

Great point Niko, it’s a fab read and something I should dig out again, infact I will right now 🙂

Comment by George

Thanks Niko.

Hey Rob, you going to update us on the MTV stuff you said?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

u are welcome. if anybody else has recomendations about further reading on this subject, let me know,’cause it really is interesting and very insightfull.

Comment by niko

I think something incredibly interesting in this area is looking at people and how they have reacted to the Nintendo Wii.

Suddenly games are physically immersive. As we mentioned before about digital age kids craving the tangible, the Wii is connecting people and making them feel games in the most literal sense.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Excellent point Rob and as most entertainment companies (and branding companies for that matter) say the future is creating interactive experiences for customers, Wii has jumped ahead and developed literal interpretations of that vision through the creation of games that truly envelop the participants body, mind and senses.

I wonder how long it will be before they develop games that conquer the final untapped sense, “smell”?

Comment by George

There have already been prototype smell devices made, there were stories about a smell output device being released for the PC a couple of years ago!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

[…] a interesting discussion going on here about Sony’s HD work in Asia, Werbeblogger raves about it here, so does Faris (a little) here […]

Pingback by The Light Grey Rabbit next to the Dark Grey Rabbit. « | The Kaiser | dissoziative fugue

[…] a interesting discussion going on here about Sony’s HD work in Asia, Werbeblogger raves about it here, so does Faris (a little) here […]

Pingback by The Light Grey Rabbit next to the Dark Grey Rabbit.

Leave a Reply