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High-Definition Brilliance: The Genius of Sony Bravia’s Early Advertising

Going back to 2005, Sony Bravia needed to set itself apart in an increasingly crowded HD-TV industry. The brand’s strategy? Captivate consumers with visually stunning adverts. With a mix of vivid colours and crisp details, visual excellence became not only their product’s USP, but the core principle of their advertising strategy.


Over the years, the brand partnered with renowned filmmakers and artists to produce stunning, outside-the-box advertisements that got people talking. Not only that, but they were also pioneers of implementing user-generated content into their marketing strategy. So, in this post, let’s take a look at some of Sony Bravia’s most memorable early campaigns.


2005: Colour Like No Other Campaign

In 2005, Sony Electronics was reeling from a sharp drop in its share prices the previous year. Having already lost the portable MP3 player market to Apple, it needed to dominate the next electronics battleground: the high-definition LCD TV market.At the time, the industry’s key players were all offering strikingly similar design features and comparable quality. In order to truly make waves in an industry lacking differentiation, the Bravia launch would need an outside-the-box advertising debut.The Colour Like No Other Campaign definitely made a splash. This master class in ‘show don’t tell’ avoided technobabble and product specs in favour of mesmerising imagery set to a soothing soundtrack. 


Viewers were captivated by thousands of balls rolling and bouncing through San Francisco’s hilly streets. With vivid colours and crisp details, Sony visually showed the high-definition features of the LCD screen without needing to say a word. 


The result? In the six weeks that followed the launch of the "balls" ad, Sony's share in the LCD TV market was the highest it had been in two years. As well as claiming the high-ground in the LCD TV market, the Colour Like No Other advert won a string of awards. Even now, it’s often lauded as one of the most iconic commercials in the history of advertising 



2006: Glasgow Goes Multi-Coloured


Following the success of the bouncing balls advert, Bravia set its sights on a Glasgow tower block as the backdrop for a second explosively colourful commercial.

In a project that had never been done before, an empty multi-storey high rise in Glasgow’s Toryglen had thousands of gallons of paint blasted across it using pyrotechnics. This huge stunt required 70,000 litres of paint, 1,700 detonators, 455 mortars, 622 bottle bombs, 65 camera positions and a crew of 200 people. 

The rumoured cost of this 70-second ad? A cool £2 million. Yet, by following the same bold yet tried-and-tested formula of stunning imagery and a rousing soundtrack, Sony Bravia was able to pull off another striking ad that truly got people talking.


After painting Glasgow rainbow-coloured, Sony Bravia moved onto bunnies. Using stop frame animation and 2.5 tonnes of plasticine, Sony set hundreds of animated rabbits hopping loose through the streets of New York City. It was yet another iconic advert that dominated ads awards in 2007.  


The Best PR Imaginable 

When Sony was making their San Francisco ad, it wasn’t only runaway balls that proved a logistical nightmare. The team behind the ad found that filming in some of a major city’s most iconic streets attracted, naturally, a lot of public attention. San Fran residents started to film the agency at work and post clips on the internet.


This was, at the time, a concern; after all, TV ad shoots are usually secretive, closed affairs. There was fear that revealing the concept of the ad in advance would ruin any element of surprise and novelty before it officially aired.  


Yet, in reality, these clips proved to be the best PR imaginable. Seeing the ad in-the-making heightened curiosity and, by the time the ad went live, anticipation in San Francisco and beyond was at a fever-pitch. 


So, when it was time to film the Glasgow advert, Sony truly leaned into curious residents’ involvement. Not only did they encourage the public to post on Flickr and YouTube, but they even created an online drumroll in the form of a blog on the Bravia website. This featured regular updates and titbits about the production of the advert that boosted engagement and built anticipation.


These days, creating a marketing buzz using social media and user-generated content is nothing new. Yet, back in 2006, it was an innovative strategy. It’s just another example of how bravely pushing the boundaries helped cement Sony Bravia’s spot as a frontrunner of the HD-TV industry.


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