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Sony to Mount Major HD Ad Blitz

Facing an alarming loss of an estimated $1 billion in revenue in its TV business by the end of its fiscal year in March 2006, Sony is reportedly quietly mounting its largest TV ad campaign in 10 years to promote its new HD products in the United States. Primary campaign objectives will include rebranding its entire line of LCD products and dumping its Wega brand for LCDs, for the most part, which Sony now considers too closely tied to older CRT technology.

The new line of Sony LCDs will be promoted under the new brand name “Bravia,” according to The Wall Street Journal. One of the few early signs (quite literally) of Bravia branding is now on display at Yankee Stadium in New York.

However, one model Sony hopes will catch on in the U.S.--its 60-inch rear projection HD--will still use the Wega name. It will hit American store shelves in a few weeks. The Grand Wega reportedly will feature a new type of chip exclusive to Sony, and will be unveiled to the industry (along with some new Bravia models) at CEDIA 2005 in Indianapolis, Sept. 7-11.

As part of its promotion campaign, Sony also plans to push its HD products by setting up tent displays inside hundreds of U.S. retail outlets, and will be an on-air sponsor of HD broadcasts of NFL and NASCAR events in the months ahead. Now headed by an American, Howard Stringer, for the first time in its history, Sony came to the flat-screen display table late, insisting on continuing to perfect its CRT models until only a couple of years ago.

Although its CRT-based Trinitron picture tubes were enormously popular for many years among both professionals and consumers, Sony was left without a back-up strategy when competitors and the public (notably in Japan) began showing a distinct preference for flat-panel LCD and plasma models over CRT, starting in 2002. Price kept CRT products in the loop (and still does, to a certain degree), but that edge is quickly fading as flat-screen prices continue to fall.