Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sony's Latest Breakthroughs: Defying Gravity, and Pushing the Marketing Envelope

Despite a year and a bit that resemble nothing more than a Keystone Cops caper, Sony continues to do well, despite itself.

NYT: One Crisis After Another, but Sony Shares Keep Surging
A LOT of the news about the Sony Corporation over the last year has been — as its Welsh-born chairman, Howard Stringer, might say — rather dreary.


Given all these challenges, it is not hard to conjure the image of Mr. Stringer as a stranger in a strange land, struggling to bridge an impossible cultural and operational gulf at his Japanese-based behemoth.
Despite all this, Sony is, curiously, the land of the rising stock. If you look at the share performance of some of the biggest media companies over the last two years, — roughly since Mr. Stringer was named as the first non-Japanese head of Sony — you might be surprised to see Sony near the head of the pack.


But there is evidence to suggest that the new course the company has pursued — not to mention a healthy dollop of luck and timing — has yielded promising results.
There are, as near as I can tell, at least three main reasons for this. One is that Sony has gone a long way toward mending its electronics business, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of an expected $70 billion in sales in the year ended in March 2007. The second is that the company’s sprawling east-west software-hardware agglomeration may at last be starting to make sense. And, finally, there is Sony’s simple recognition of how deep a hole it got itself into — and how far it still needs to climb back.

Despite the good natured poking I give Sony on an almost daily basis, I do want them to win. Maybe it's because I hold them to a high standard, and when they prove to be a continuing disappointment, I'm fairly hard on them.

Regardless, Sony frequently exhibits self-destructive behavior. Note this animal rights scandal that has (mostly british) people aghast:

Daily Mail: Slaughter: Horror at Sony's depraved promotion stunt with decapitated goat

Electronics giant Sony has sparked a major row over animal cruelty and the ethics of the computer industry by using a freshly slaughtered goat to promote a violent video game.
The corpse of the decapitated animal was the centrepiece of a party to celebrate the launch of the God Of War II game for the company’s PlayStation 2 console.

Something that thoughtless has to be deliberate self-sabotage.

I can almost imagine the meeting.

Howard Stringer: "Right. Despite everything we've done wrong in the last 18 months, or stock is still up, our market share in video is still great, and our brand is still widely respected by customers. We need a really BIG goatfuck to trump the exploding batteries and the malware in our music CDs."

Publicist: "Hmm, goatfuck... sir, I have an idea!"

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1 comment:

Flatland Pastor said...

I too want Sony to get it together and come back from their many humiliations because I also respect their history and commitment to innovation and quality. But I must say that I don't think you could pay an advertising firm to come up with something as damaging as Sony's God of War II launch debacle.

What is confusing to me is that I was a part of the Sony world for 13 years and there was a discernible Sony culture. It was creative, innovative and progressive, but it was always aimed at a broad audience and every division had the distinct understanding that a screw-up for one group was a screw-up for the whole company.

I know I've made this point before, but what is the overarching vision at Sony? Where are they headed collectively? What are their shared corporate values? And ultimately who is responsible for Sony's image?

I think I need to quote you here Lee:

"Once is short-sightedness, twice is incompetence, three times is sabotage."

Or maybe that conversation was more like this?

Howard Stringer: "Will no one here come up with a strategy to get the press to forget about the exploding batteries and infected CDs?"

Publicist: Thinking to itself- ["Hmmmm....Waitaminit! I know how I can help Mr. Stringer, get in his good books AND fulfill our obligations to Sony Media Group. Oooooooo....This is gonna be GREAT! Mr. Stringer will be so surprised and greatfull!]