We take a look back at 2006 and Sony were prepped to do their global campaign for their new SONY Bravia TV range. HD TV's were starting to be the norm in homes and lots of companies were jostling for lead position in the increasing market. People were being hammered with specs which they didn't understand so often people only looked at price. Sony chose to focus on a specific feature, and that feature was colour.
Sony wanted to highlight the high definition colour of the Bravia range. They tasked their agency, Tonic, to find a way to do this in a way that would separate the generic visuals that were commonly used at the time to display colour capabilities. It was the brain child of the agency founder Ranzie Anthony as he saw a way to translate a visceral colourful experience through a screen.
The idea was simple in principle but it was very hard in reality. 250,000 bouncy balls being set off down the hilly streets of San Francisco. Reading it back now still sounds as amazing as it did at the ideas table all of those years ago. Sony thought it was a great idea when they initially thought it was going to be computer-generated, they were much more hesitant when Ranzie explained that he wanted to do it for real.
On Nov. 6, just prior to the kickoff for a widely watched match between the U.K.'s most popular football teams, Manchester United and Chelsea, Sony Europe launched a few balls of its own. Filling the entire pregame commercial break, Sony aired a hypnotic two-and-a-half-minute spot that follows 250,000 brightly colored orbs as they leap en masse in a bouncing ballet through the hills of San Francisco, accompanied by a soothing folk tune. Created out of Fallon/London, and directed by MJZ's Nicolai Fuglsig, the commercial, which shows no product until the end tag's image of Sony's new Bravia television, reads more like an art film rather than an advertisement, in line with a direction Sony had set for its brand and communications a year ago: "Like no other."
"Since then, we tried to develop ideas about what each product category could stand for, whether it be 'sound like no other,' or, with photography, 'shoot like no other,' " explains Fallon/London creative director Richard Flintham. "With the new Bravia television, the brief was about creating the perfect pixel from start to finish, so with this we decided that color would be the focus. We went through a lot of ideas to do something that felt like a celebration of color more than an illustration of it. We didn't want to do something that felt like an ad with a fleeting impression. We wanted to create something that would stay with you for a long time."
With that, art director/copywriter Juan Cabral walked into a presentation meeting last December with a simple premise: "Go to San Francisco, send a million colored balls down the street and film them. 'Color like no other.' " That launched the agency into an arduous eight-month quest to make it happen. "We were sure that we wanted to do it for real," says Flintham. The agency turned to Fuglsig, who constructed a massive cannon device, similar to a multifunneled tennis ball shooter, to launch the balls. Originally, the intention was to use a million balls, but after tapping manufacturers all around the world, the agency discovered that amount couldn't be produced in time for the shoot. Instead, "We went to every fun fair dealer in the country and had to buy them," says Fuglsig. "Kids in America won't be finding bouncy balls for a while."
San Francisco's residents were understandably bemused when they saw 250,000 bouncy balls being fired down their streets in rapid succession. It was a sign of the times that the city's folk didn't just talk about it with their neighbours and friends, but told the rest of the world when they wrote about it online and posted images of what they'd seen on user-generated content sites like Flickr, YouTube and iFilm.
Sony saw an opportunity as the Ad went viral before the editing of the advert had even finished. They pounced on the ooppportinity in a stroke of genius as the sped up the editing process and release a website, which is still live now, where you could watch the completed advert. They brought in soon to be sensation Jose Gonzalez as someone unknown was easier and cheaper to bring on at short notice (Great choice btw).
On this site, visitors were given access to high-definition images, behind-the-scenes video clips, wallpaper and screensavers, which they could download and share. These were provided by Fallon, the creative agency behind the TV campaign.
A week later, an exclusive 60-second clip of the TV ad was added to Bravia-advert.com. Then, once the TV ad went live, the full-length version was posted on the site and seeded on to both Flickr and YouTube. The Bravia site also included a link to a traditional product-focused microsite, focused specifically on the benefits of Sony Bravia's LCD TV range.
Tracking found 17,500 sites were linked to Bravia-advert.com; more than two million people visited the site; the TV ad had 1.8 million views on the site and was downloaded 40,000 times; and there were an estimated seven million further viewings on Google Video, YouTube and other web 2.0 sites.
Sony reported that Bravo sales far exceeded projections and led them to continue the theme for the future. They had shown how to combine digital marketing and brand marketing in a time when it was not the norm. Their realisation of how word of mouth was doing the work was genius.
Speaking of sticking to the theme, I thought would leave you with what they followed up with. As beautiful as it was it caused a lot of damage and Sony had to pay out some, but not substantial amounts of money.
Instead of bouncy balls, 70,000 litres of paint was used and a tower block that was scheduled for demolition soon after filming...this is the result.
By Kag Katumba
I am the Marketing Executive at Smart Insights, heading up our Free Memberships and Content Partnerships. I've amassed 5 years of industry experience which keeps me on the pulse of all things marketing and digital. Feel free to connect with me at Linkedin
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