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Branding Sony Alpha


Final Paper on Term Project
21F.036/CMS.888
Professor Jing Wang
December 9, 2010

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Content

INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………………………………2

PART I: MARKET RESEARCH

Research Questions: Trends of DSLR and the Sony brand ………………………………...…2

Target Audience for China Market……………………………………………………………4

Target Audience for US Market……………………………………………………………….6

Advertising Agency……………………………………………………………………………7

PART II: BRAND AUDIT

Focus Group for China Market…………………………………………………………..……7

Focus Group for US Market………………………………………………………………….10

Concept Writing ……………………………………………………………………………..11

Concept I: “I will make a revolution—professional is playful!”………………….…11

Concept II: “I am confident and chic—just like my Alpha!”………………………...13

Concept III: “I can do everything with my DSLR”…………………………………..14

PART III: CREATIVE EXECUTION FOR CHINA MARKET

Concept……………………………………………………………………………………………….15

Creative Execution I and Media Planning: DIY Campaign …………………………………………16

Creative Execution II and Media Planning: Teen Idol Dramas …………………………………..…19

PART IV: CREATIVE EXECUTION FOR THE US MARKET

Concept…………………………………………………………………………………...…………..20

Creative Execution I and Media Planning: Photo-Editing Application………………………21


Creative Execution II and Media Planning: Brand Endorsement by Real Women………….22

CONCLUSION………………………………………………………………………………...……25
APPENDICES………………………………………………………………………………………26
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INTRODUCTION

The aim of this project is to play the role of an advertising agency to brand a product, Sony

Alpha in China and the United States. Sony Alpha is a new line of Digital Single-Lens-Reflex

(DSLR) Camera launched by Sony Corporation. We chose this product because the DSLR camera

market has recently been growing rapidly due to its expansion of target audience to youth culture.

Sony, although new to the DSLR market where Canon and Nikon brands are leaders, became the

fasting growing company in the market shortly after its launch. Unlike its competitors, Sony provides

a wide range of products fitting for amateurs and has a strong brand image attracting the youth

culture. Thus, Sony suggests a promising growth in both the China and the US markets.

This paper presents the process in branding the Sony Alpha. In market research process, we

discuss current trends of the DSLR camera and identify target audience for China and the US

markets. Through brand auditing, we describe consumer insights gained from our focus groups,

which leads to concept writing. We then present creative execution and media planning for the

concepts chosen for China and the US markets.

PART I: MARKET RESEARCH

Research Questions: Trends of DSLR and the Sony brand

The digital still camera has become increasingly saturated as most people (over 67% of

Americans) already own at least one camera. Although sales have continued, with over 40 million

cameras sold in 2008, it is largely driven by casual consumers who want to replace their older

cameras with the latest technology. This low-end market with includes cameras that only cost $70 in

the US – affordable to people of all classes.1 However, in this particular price range, people do not

expect the product to have perfect quality, but rather trust the camera to simply get the job done..

1
Best Buy. “Digital SLRs: Digital SLR (DSLR) Cameras.”
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One exception to this stagnated market trend in the camera industry is the DSLR – a large,

bulky camera that produces high-resolution images with incredible focus and precision. Formerly

only used by professionals, the DSLR has found a new niche, catering to serious amateurs and young

adults seeking the newest, trendiest, and affordable technology. Due to reduced prices, an increase of

product-range availability, and creative campaigns that fuel consumers to want high quality

photographs, the DSLR camera has recently seen immense success that has greatly outpaced the

digital still camera. While the digital camera’s world revenue dropped 6.1% in 2009, the DSLR

camera is growing continually since 20062. In the US alone, DSLR market grew by 25% annually in

the previous five years, with industry experts anticipating this rapid growth to continue over the next

five years3. In fact, the DSLR camera market has become the fastest growing segment of the industry,

expecting 40.5% and 46.4% revenue increase from 2010 to 2015 in China and the US markets

respectively. However, in both countries, there has been a tendency for domestic brands to flounder

against international powerhouse brands like Canon, Samsung, and Nikon. Sony, however, lags

behind the market leaders of Canon and Nikon, with only 18% of the market share in China.4

Spearheaded by university-industry collaborations, the innovative technology behind DSLRs

are continuing to improve, causing even more excitement among consumers. With up to 24

megapixels, wide-frame lens, and crystal clear images – the DSLR camera has gained positive hype.

Compared to the digital still camera, the DSLR camera has many more technological advantages:

interchangeable high-quality lenses, less noise, limited shutter lag, and fast performance with regards

to frame rate.5 These ground-breaking upgrades have enhanced the view of DSLRs in the public eye,

and the lowered costs reduced to $400 have made the market boom.

Ingenious publicity campaigns have also made the DSLR camera one of the trendiest

electronics items to have. Companies want to target a new demographic of young trendsetters who

2
IBISWorld. "Camera & Film Wholesaling: 42141." IBISWorld Industry Report, October 07, 2010. Print.
3
Graham, Jefferson. “Breakthrough Nikon SLR shoots standard and HD video.”
4
“Canon: leading China’s digital SLR camera market.”
5
Kronk, Kurtis. “10 Reasons to Buy a DSLR Camera.”
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need the latest, coolest features. From the launch of Canon’s “Like a Star” advertisements featuring

pop singer Avril Lavigne, the large non-compact DSLRs have been associated with the essence of

“cool.” Positioned to inspire young adults to be creative, the DSLR cameras are poised to help

people appreciate the world in a new light, with imagination and self-expression. The most important

feature to be recently touted is the ease of which the photographs can be shared. Products like the

Sony Bloggie make it simple for users to upload their photographs straight to online imaging sites

like Picasa and Fickr and tag their friends. Thus, the camera industry is essentially trying to make the

camera a multimedia interface for entertainment – an integrative hub for social networking of a

product that is no longer a simple one-function device.

The Sony Alpha is Sony’s recently launched DSLR camera series. Although it is consistent

with other Sony products in terms of quality and design, it is at a disadvantage to the established

brands like Canon and Nikon. It has not had a chance to take hold of the market yet, as it is still

trying to cultivate positive feedback. Since Sony invests in multiple products across the whole

electronics spectrum, many consumers choose other brands simply because those companies focus

directly on cameras. Because Canon and Nikon already have such a stranglehold, Sony must look at

alternative means of competing in the market, including looking at new demographics and perhaps a

niche market. Therefore, we first decided to look at the popular trends in the DSLR market to

identify a potential target audience and consumer base.

Target Audience for China Market

Our target audience for the China Market has three main characteristics: Millennials with

upper-middle class background (or aspiration to be in this privileged group) from second-tier cities

such as Chengdu, Nanjing, and Wuhan. We chose to target Millennials because, in addition to being

the largest consumer group of Sony products, they are the most enthusiastic recipients of the current

DSLR trend. The DSLR is integrating into youth culture in China. The “Leading Edge Youth Trends
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Asia” project by Crystal6 proposes six key trends of Asian youth culture as a fusion product of

Western cultural adoption and Asian Collectivism and Conformity values. One key trend identified is

the DIY culture. With the rising desires of individual creativity and responsibility of Chinese youth,

the point-and-shoot camera would not allow consumers to express their individualities. The solution

is proposed in the DSLR camera, a tool that enables consumers to take pictures in their own ways

such as adjusting focus, aperture, lighting, camera mode, and so on. The image of ‘artists’ associated

with DSLRs further facilitates empowerment of radical creative ideas that these young consumers

aspire. DIY consumers’ receptivity to the DSLR is evident in the growing popularity of high quality

photos taken by DSLR being shared in Facebook. Additionally, DSLR camera’s ‘classic’ designs

that resembles manual film camera of old days may also attract consumers from the Retro Power.

Taking artistic photography with DSLR may also enable consumers with the Chill Out value set to

express their laid-back, indulgent, and open-minded characters. Furthermore, Sony Alpha would

benefit from the Chinese youth’s perception of Japanese product as high quality and fashionable with

the J-Pop and Local Pride trends.

Another key trend of Asian youth culture, VIP culture, led us to identify our target audience

as upper-middle class youth or youth who aspire to be a member of this group. In China, the ‘cool’

products to own are increasingly heading towards products in the high-end market. Consumption

patterns that resemble the VIP culture serve as status signifiers. Thus, the high price and ‘premium’

quality image of DSLR cameras, especially those of Japanese DSLR cameras like Sony Alpha,

express the aspirations to be ‘privileged’ among Chinese youth. In fact, Sony Alpha is perfect for this

young, privileged target group who could also be characterized as ‘Bobos’, the new and growing

upper middle-class consumers of today’s world. David Brooks’ “Bobos in Paradise” 7 describes

Bobos as consumers who do not simply consume extravagantly on luxurious goods but ‘smart’

gadgets like the DSLR that has functions and utilities that they may never fully use but is ‘useful’.

6
Wang, Jing. "Leading Edge Youth Trends Asia by Crystal for Motorola." 21F.2036. MIT. Class, Boston. 6 Oct. 2010. Class lecture.
7
Brooks, David. Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. New Ed ed. New York: Simon & Schuster,
2001. Print.
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Furthermore, we will focus on advertising to our identified target audience in the second tier

cities in China. Although DSLR market is larger in first-tier cities that 14.32% and 11.93% of all

DSLR cameras sold in China in 2009 were in Shanghai and Beijing respectively8, the market is more

saturated with DSLR brand leaders like Canon and Nikon. Since Sony is relatively new in this

market, it would be more effective for Sony to seek new channels in second-tier cities rather than

trying to compete for market share in first-tier cities. In fact, the DSLR market in second tier cities

like Chengdu, Nanjing, and Wuhan are expanding rapidly due to the growing GDP and increasing

attention paid to these cities in recent years. For example, experts predict Nanjing’s camera market to

grow continuously as a result of hosting the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics9. A market research by

MIT’s Chaired Professor Philip M. Parker ranks Chengdu, Nanjing, and Wuhan as the 12th, 31st, and

32nd largest DSLR camera market in the world, sharing 8.48%, 4.80%, and 4.78% of all the DSLR

revenue in the China8.

Target Audience for the US Market

In the United States, typical DSLR owners are professionals or serious amateurs. However,

there is a lot of potential for growth outside of this demographic, especially since DSLRs are

becoming more affordable. The Sony Alpha is still considered a relatively new DSLR series and

consequently, it has not been perceived as reliable as its Nikon or Canon counterparts, because not

much is known about the product yet One male, age 21 participant in our focus group said he

purchased the Nikon DSLR because the Sony one was “too new,” implying that he did not choose it

as there were not enough users and reviews available to hype the qualities of the camera.

Since Canon and Nikon are already dominating the DSLR market, it may be most

advantageous for Sony to seek a particular niche in the market. Since Canon and Nikon emphasize

professionalism, which is compatible with “guys [who] always use legit cameras,” Sony may find it

8
Parker, Philip. The 2009-2014 World Outlook for Digital
Single-Lens-Reflex Cameras. Singapore and Fontainebleau, France: ICON Group International, Inc., 2008. Print.
9
"Dominate the SLR market-landing of Nanjing - Digital Camera." frbiz. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2010.
<news.frbiz.com/dominate_the_slr_market_canon-407866.html>.
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easier to target a separate audience, with several distinguishing traits. Similar to in China, in the US

there is a VIP culture seen in young adults who seek premium quality products. Usually, they also

want the newest, trendiest item, which the Sony DSLR camera will be. Sony Alpha will represent

how these trendsetters see themselves: full of confidence, contemporary, and trendy. It will be a

representation of Sony’s strong brand image of quality modern products. The Sony Alpha also

allows amateur photographers to express their creativity without having to compromise quality and

individuality. They can be artsy and cool.

Advertising Agency

With our focus on youth culture, the transnational advertising agency with a character that

fits our concepts most is Saatchi & Saatchi: The Lovemarks Company. The agency operates on a

philosophy of providing Lovemarks, “a product, service or entity that inspires Loyalty Beyond

Reason” for its customers’ brand. Thus, Saatchi & Saatchi would be the perfect agency to bring out

Sony’s strong brand image. The agency has numerous experiences working with non-market leaders

by pinpointing sub-culture target audiences through innovative ideas. Examples of this includes

Saatchi & Saatchi’s work on T-Mobile’s “Dance” and SOS Mata Atlanta Foundation’s “Pee in the

Shower” commercials. Moreover, most of the agency’s works deal with advanced digital media

techniques such as Toyota Prius “Harmony” as well as Sony’s own Sony Ericcson commercials,

building credentials for Sony Alpha’s “high-image quality” and “innovative new media” images.

PART II: BRAND AUDIT

Focus Group for China Market

The goal of conducting a focus group with Chinese people is to understand Sony’s position in

China market, as well as that of Cannon and Nikon (Sony’s main competitors) and of DSLR cameras

in general. Our focus group consists of seven Chinese international undergraduates from Wellesley

College. Each participant owns at least one of the following products: Sony camera, Sony product,
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Canon camera, or Nikon camera (Appendix I for full demographics). Because Sony Alpha is a new

product, we could not find a member who owns the specific product, and hence the discussion was

geared toward the Sony brand and Sony camera in general (Appendix II for list of questions).

Nonetheless, the discussion became very engaging and lasted for two hours due to contributions of

each member’s unique characteristic and product experience. Grace is a quiet first-year girl who

dressed conservatively but was very expressive when it comes to fashion of “the cute and rich girls

who use Sony” in China. Eco is an enthusiastic photographer who was eager to share stories about

her cameras ranging from pocketsize hot pink Sony digital camera to heavy-duty film camera. Mel,

born in China but moved to America, also shared insights that she found after frequent visits to

China on the differences between American and Chinese perceptions of DSLR cameras. Dialogues

between Dielai and Taili who endorse Sony products and Mimi who has a contrasting dissatisfied

experience with Sony add to the dynamic of the discussion.

We gained five main consumer insights from our discussion: Sony’s brand image, Sony’s

competitors’ brand images, Sony camera usages, DSLR trends, and conflict between DSLR and

Sony images. First, the Sony brand has a strong and consistent brand image of “cute and trendy

design” and “high-end market” but not necessarily “functional”. During the discussion, members

engage in a collage activity where they picked magazine images of models to represent their view of

Sony user and described the models’ personalities, hobbies, styles, and education and financial

backgrounds. All members emphasized their description of the model’s good looks and outgoing

personalities; a Sony user is a “young” and “stylish” girl who loves to “go out with her friends” and

“take casual pictures of her dinner” (Appendix III for sample collages). Grace, for example, chose an

image of a carefree girl laughing among her group of friends. Grace described her as “a cute girl who

cares more about aesthetics than functionality” and added that “in China, all [her] friends who use

Sony are girls, especially the cute and rich ones, who like to take pictures everywhere.” Four

members highlighted on the models’ preference for easy-to-use products that has “cool design”
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rather than “optimal functions” or “reasonable price”. Moreover, Taili suggested that if a Sony

camera is alive, it would be a “peacock—colorful, expensive, and not practical” and Mimi

commented that Sony would be Britney Spears, “more outside than on the inside, not the most

professional but the most good looking” one.

In contrast, when members were asked to do the collage activity for Canon and Nikon users,

they picked more serious models in less colorful pictures. A Canon user is “a professional, career-

oriented woman” or “an old professional photographer” and a Nikon user is “a quiet guy who likes to

take intense black and white photos”, or someone who “don't want to look pretty outside but cares

more about the inside.” Our focus group came to a conclusion that Canon and Nikon have similar

brand images, while Sony’s is very different from both its competitor. Sony’s distinct and clear

brand image can become one strong point in branding Sony Alpha.

Furthermore, Sony cameras tend to be used for taking portrait photos or pictures of friends at

parties or fun outings. Many members agreed that Sony camera is the camera they will bring with

them to parties because it is smaller than other brands’ camera and because Sony camera makes

“everyone look pretty”. Eco revealed that she uses Canon DSLR to take photos of nature but always

use Sony when taking pictures with her friends because “it makes [her] skin look shinny, white, and

smooth”. Grace also shared that “in Nanjing, if cute girls want to take pictures of themselves they

use Sony because they think Sony will automatically make them look better”. This suggests that, in

China, Sony camera is commonly used for taking pictures of people rather than natural scenes, and

often gets credit for making people look better.

We also gained insight consistent with our market research that DSLR camera has recently

become a trend, especially among upper middle class Millennials. Mel, who bought her DSLR

because she has to take “professional photos for her photography class” expressed her surprise when

she got back to China last summer and “realize [that] for Chinese people, the reason they get DSLR

is to follow the trend”. Taili added that “DSLR is getting super popular in China now” among all her
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friends and cousins, but when we asked if everyone has it, Taili corrected us saying that only the

“cool” and “rich” ones do, and that is why DSLR looked up upon among Chinese youth.

The “cool” ones who own DSLR, Taili later elaborated, are the ones who know how to “take

professional photos”. The DSLR camera is trendy because it has “good quality lens, speed, and

professional functions,” Eco suggested. These functions allow DIY trendsetters to customize their

photos to fit their own styles. Through discussions with our focus group, we find that for Chinese

people “cool” does not mean lack of seriousness (as our US focus group suggested). Instead,

professional is the cool trend, especially among Chinese Retro youth who values complicated manual

functionality of DSLR. Thus, Chinese youth buy the DSLR camera to look professional. However,

the professional image that they want to get from DSLR is more consistent to the brand image of

Canon and Nikon but not that of Sony. The good looking but not functional Sony may have a

problem when it comes to advertising Sony DSLR with a conflicting demand of what the Chinese

market wants from a DSLR.

Focus Group for US Market

Our US focus group consisted of female and male college students and recent graduates from

MIT, ages 20-26, who are originally from across the country (Appendix IV for full demographics).

Although all of them possess Sony products, ranging from televisions and laptops to the PlayStation,

only two of them own Sony cameras. Three own Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras, and their input

on their reasoning in shopping for a DSLR and why they bought particular brands led to intriguing

insights about the camera industry as a whole. One woman who keyed the discussion was Edna, who

had owned a Sony Camera but decided to switch to Canon. She was very outspoken about her

thoughts, often driving the conversation, but allowing others to voice opposing opinions. To her, the

DSLR camera sector is trying to convince “everyone and their mom” that they can own a DSLR. The

industry lacks focus especially since she didn’t particularly feel the need to purchase one.
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Through our focus group, we gained for main insights. First we learned how our target

consumers perceived the Sony brand as a premium brand. It has developed a reputation for modern

products from their PlayStation, Vaio, and Walkman subbrands and is considered a leader in the

electronics world. However, although Sony is thought of as “reliable and trusted,” their products are

not always #1 in the industry, whether it is televisions, music players, or cameras, but are always

“good.” In a survey sent out to college students across the area, students identified certain Sony

products as expensive and not priced well for their function – an image the brand is trying to rectify

while maintaining its first-class status.

In the US focus group, we also learned that young adults, particularly women, really liked

“hip, trendy, [and] fashionable” items – products that can typically be related to Sony’s brand image.

Sony products are not usually viewed for functionality, but rather are regarded as “fashionable

accessories” for “modern, hip, on the go, girly girls.” These women can fit into the trendsetter

personality who can use the Sony Alpha to fulfill their needs for stylish, up-to-date products and also

fall in an unexplored category of people who do not own DSLR cameras. These women found that

Nikon and Canon cameras were “too serious” for them, and identified a school teacher as a person

who would use a Nikon camera, due to his experience and his age (late 30s). There was a divide

between men and women in our focus group, where the men preferred more “legit” cameras

designed by Canon and Nikon. They did their research on the cameras, felt them in their hand, and

chose their camera based on function, not style. Through our focus group insights, we were able to

develop several potential concepts for branding Sony Alpha.

Concept Writing

Concept I- Our first concept focuses on creating a revolutionary bridge between professionalism and

playfulness in our targeted youth consumers’ mind:

"I will make a Revolution--professional is playful!"


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The youths who use Sony Alpha are initiating a revolution, bringing together the professional world

and the playful world. They are playful in their professions and also professional in their plays.

There is no need to miss having good and groovy times when shooting good quality photos, and there

is no need of missing professional shots to capture the best memories of their fun times.

Concept I was derived to reconcile the conflict between Sony’s brand image and what

consumers expect from buying a DSLR. From both focus groups, we gain a clear brand image of

Sony being fun, trendy (and cute for Chinese), as well as more design-based rather than functional.

In contrast, both focus groups associate DSLR cameras with professionalism. For example, Eco

pointed out that, “if [she pays] so much money for a DSLR, [she wants] to buy a top quality one like

Canon…For DSLR, Sony is not as professional as Canon.” Because Sony’s competitors, Canon and

Nikon, have brand images that are much for consistent with the existing DSLR image and already

have a large share in the mainstream DSLR market, we will not compete for the mainstream market.

Instead, we will use the conflicting images between Sony and DSLR to attract radical millennial

trendsetters in a new market.

In this concept, we are communicating to enthusiastic trendsetters through the idealistic idea

of creating a “revolution”: if the image of Fun and Professional being together does not exist, make

it! The concept of creating a revolution attracts millennials who are “energetic and passionate about

social causes; brimming with new approaches…equipped with the digital tools and people power to

make it happen” (Fine 1)10. Our target audience is in need of making some statement and taking part

in some social change. This is especially true for upper middle-class millennials who tend to have the

resources but not enough attention from their stern and busy parents. They want to prove that they

can be professional and even more successful than their parents, but they will do that in their own

way. They are making a revolutionary statement against their parents’ beliefs: having fun does not

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Fine, Allison. Social Citizens (Beta): Case Foundation, 2008. Online.
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have to mean being unprofessional. They can add playfulness to professionalism, and Sony Alpha

will help them make that happen.

Concept II- Our second concept is directed towards the female demographic and focuses on the

relationship between a woman and her camera:

“I am confident and chic – just like my Sony Alpha!”

I don’t need to be serious all the time. I can have fun living life and remembering all these wonderful

memories! I will strut through life as a sophisticated woman and capture it all on camera with my

own Sony Alpha!

We discovered several strong views of the DSLR camera industry. Overall, our focus groups

consisting of the target audience of college students (both men and women) found the DSLR too

serious: that it is only for professionals who demand quality. It is not suitable for college users who

want to take it to typical college social gatherings like parties, formals, and dinners. Due to this

insight, we want to render the Sony Alpha DSLR camera to feel much more accessible than Nikon

and Canon to potential DSLR consumers. We want it to be an approachable product for casual

consumers, with no pressure that DSLRs can only be used to take photographs of nature. They can

use it for whatever their passion is in the real world; it does not need to be limited to only serious

subject matters, but rather the DSLR presents the opportunity for people to express themselves

creatively. To combine these two insights, we wanted to use a concept that would attract this young

adult female demographic and also make the DSLR camera usable and thus, this second concept was

born. Confidence and chic describes the type of woman that many young women aim to be. The

Sony Alpha will be designed and marketed for this type of woman as it can share the same qualities.

The Sony Alpha is modern (“chic”). It also knows its quality and is unafraid to be itself (“confident”).

It will enable women to express themselves and capture their everyday lives.

In the US, our focus group felt that making the Sony Alpha more “trendy would not attract

men into buying it. The males in our group said that they would rather trust a brand, specifically
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focused on cameras if they want high quality DSLR, not an electronics conglomerate like Sony. Thus,

it is in Sony’s other endeavors that hurt its cameras, even though its other undertakings are what

made it a trusted brand. Our Chinese focus group felt similarly, as many of the participants truly felt

that Sony cameras were made for “girls or pretty boys.” These strong opinions made us believe that

targeting the Sony DSLR camera to women would be much more feasible. Therefore, this concept is

focused on creating a novel lifestyle for the female Sony Alpha user – one of fun and casualness in

DSLR consumers who do not want the camera just for “portraits,” “landscapes,” and “action shots” –

photos associated with Sony’s main competitors. It will also create a specific niche in the DSLR

market dominated by Nikon and Canon, with a position that de-stress seriousness and applies no

pressure on consumers to use DSLRs only for professional photos.

Concept III - Our third concept emphasizes the potential all DSLR cameras have:

“I can do everything with my DSLR”

DSLR users want something magical from their cameras. They are looking for cool functions that

would transform their photos and memories into a masterpiece. That's right! It doesn't matter if

you're professional or amateur. Through the lens of your Alpha, everything is possible.

Both our focus groups agreed that many DSLR users want something magical from their

cameras. They want to see quality; they want to see the minutest detail like a single flower petal,

captured in a photograph that gives the picture an X factor. These consumers want to feel inspired by

photographs, just like how they are inspired by life. They are looking for cool functions that will

transform their photos and memories into a masterpiece. Through the lens of a Sony Alpha, they

want to believe that anything is possible. They believe that they “can do everything with their DSLR.

The main emphasis in this concept is derived from the overall perception that the DSLR

camera is a high-quality camera that has many functions that enables the user to create amazing

photographs. This concept can be attractive to both men and women as it is not gender-specific. The

DSLR camera is typically assumed to be for people who take a lot of action shots, is experienced in
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photography, and enjoys the art of photography that they demand quality. The Sony Alpha series fits

people of all types as it has three models, with various sizes and functions that can appeal to

amateurs who are seeking something magical as well.

PART III: CREATIVE EXECUTION FOR CHINA MARKET

Concept

We chose Concept I (“I will make a Revolution—professional is playful!”) for the Chinese

market, because in addition to capturing the need to take part in a revolution of millennials, concept I

also captures the unique aspirations of Chinese upper-middle class millennials. Due to their

Confucian values, Chinese millennials aspire to become successful, following the paths of their

parents. However, because of their upper middle class upbringing, they are exposed to Westernized

ideas from going to international schools to reading high-end international magazines, and hence

causing them to hold Western individualistic ideals as well. This mix exposure causes them to desire

to become successful for elders and society to be proud of them, but they will but become successful

in their own way. And this same group of people that Concept I attracts are the ones who can afford

a DSLR and the ones who can influence new trends among Chinese youth.

Furthermore, unlike in the US where professional is viewed as the opposite of fun, there is an

association between DSLR’s professionalism and cool culture in China. Thus, there is a higher

possibility of setting a new trend of playful professionalism in China. Moreover, Concept I appeals

to millennials of both gender through the romantic idea of creating a ‘revolution’, unlike Concept II

which targets female through emphasizing on the ‘chicness’ of Sony Alpha. Compared to the US,

Chinese DSLR market is not as saturated, especially in our targeted second tier cities like Chengdu,

Nanjing, and Wuhan. Thus, it would not be optimal to limit our campaign to females. Furthermore,

we rejected Concept III to respond to the DIY culture among Chinese youth. These young consumers

prefer to make ‘something magical’ that can only happen to them, rather than buying a product that

can do ‘something magical’ to everyone who owns it.


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Creative Execution I and Media Planning: DIY Campaign

Our first creative execution for Concept I is a DIY campaign. We want to create a Sony

Alpha website, which will provide tools for users to customize normal photos into their own Alpha

styles and share them in their profile pages. The purpose of this campaign is to create a fun

technological Alpha community as a platform for millennial trendsetters to make their own

revolutionary statements by expressing how they play professionally. We hope that the communal

effort of these trendsetters will give rise to a new trend, bringing Sony’s playful image and DSLR’s

professional image together. The website will be a mixture of social network service and blog

platform, which gives users the opportunity to tell stories about who they are through their Alpha

photos, to participate in weekly contests, and to interact with like minders by commenting on their

photos, revolutionary statement journals, and voting for them.

To be in the Alpha community, users enter SonyAlphaRevolution.com and customize their

photos, following 6 simple steps:

1. Users upload photos.


2. Photos go through an interface that looks like Alpha lens.
3. User see default adjustment on their normal picture to a higher quality photo as if photo was
taken from Sony Alpha in auto mode.
4. Users customize photos by changing camera mode, focus, aperture, contrast, and other camera
options to get DIY photos.
5. User expresses the stories of their photos by adding phrase “______, is my revolution” at the
bottom right corner of photo with Alpha symbol acting as the period of the sentence (eg. My
artwork is my revolution!, my party scene is my revolution!)
6. Users can add DIY photos on the spot of their choice on their Alpha photos, share photos on
other sites, save or print photos.
The campaign emphasizes on the love of Storylines and DIY culture among Chinese youth.

Each DIY photo album creates a storyline of how the user plays professionally (in their hobbies,

interests, passions) and become playful in his/her profession (in their projects, occupation, lifestyles).

Each unique story reflects who the user is, his/her styles, and what fun revolution he/she wants to

make. There will be a theme for each week (eg. Hang out Professionally), that will encourage users

to submit photos of fun outings and portrait photos. This is because, from our focus group discussion,
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we learned that Chinese youth like to take, “decorate”, and post pictures with these pictures on their

SNS profiles. Furthermore, these photos are popularly taken by compact digital cameras (oftentimes

Sony brand) and camera phones. Thus, the DIY campaign for Sony Alpha aims to make association

between DIY photos that Chinese youth post on their profiles with Sony Alpha and change the trend

of using mobile cameras to higher quality DSLR.

By providing the DIY tools, we hope that as users have fun with making their pictures look

professional, the activity will provide a bridge between professional and playful in users’ mind.

Moreover, the tool encourages users to become familiar with the rather complicated functions and

options of DSLR cameras. There is a high demand among consumers who intend to purchase a

DSLR camera on getting hands-on experience using the cameras’ function, as product testing is

usually limited to test shooting in camera stores or online camera reviews11. Our campaign will make

consumers’ experience learning about DSLR camera more fun and less ‘scary’, thus reducing

perceived cost and risk of purchasing DSLR cameras.

In addition to providing users a fun platform to express themselves, the campaign provides

further incentive for users to be in the Alpha community through weekly contests. The winners of

each week will be the according to the theme of each week. For example, if the theme is “Dream

Professionally”, users whose character show, through their photos, how they are professional in their

dreams will be voted by other users in the Alpha community. The voting criteria focuses on the

winners’ whole character and styles, not by a single work that contestants submit like in most

campaigns. In other words, the winner wins for being the person they express themselves as through

their photos. Moreover, to encourages users to be the trendsetters of this revolutionary Alpha trend,

we recognize the winners as the trendsetter of the Alpha community, where they literally sets trend

by deciding on the following week’s theme. In addition to fame in the alpha community, each winner

will receive a Sony Alpha camera as his/her prize.


11
Norman, A.L. et al., "Can Consumer Software Selection Code for Digital Cameras Improve Consumer Performance?." Computer
Economics 31.363 (2008): 363-380. Print.
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Creative Execution I will be advertised through three types of media, focusing on three

second-tier cities: Chengdu, Nanjing, and Wuhan. The first media is the Sony Alpha website, which

is the main platform where activities in the campaign will occur. The website includes DIY tools,

SNS services, weekly contest campaigns, and users profiles as discussed previously in the DIY

Campaign section (Appendix V for mockup).

The second type of media focuses on costless, third party sites through citizen advertising.

The campaign is based on the core philosophy of citizen advertising: giving away free services and

power to control to our users. By providing a free teaser of Sony Alpha, we are giving up revenue

from some consumers who would be satisfied using the photo editing tool and not buying the camera,

in exchange of a whole youth culture trusting Sony Alpha and seeing Sony Alpha as a cool trend. We

are also giving users the full right to use and own the DIY photos they made with our tools. This is

because we expect that, in addition to loving to try new products and services that are free,

millennials also do not like to be controlled. They like to be trusted that they are mindful and capable

consumers. If our users own the photos, they would be more motivated to spread the Alpha trend

outside the Alpha community. We expect that users will post and share their photos in not only in

their Sony Alpha profiles, but also in other SNS sites that they are active in, such as Renren.com and

Kaxin.com that are currently popular among Chinese youth. Furthermore, we also expect

enthusiastic users to share their photos and information about the campaign through sites such as

qq.com and Douban.com, and even write blogs in sites like sina.com about their experiences being in

the Alpha community.

The third media will be a series of interactive print ad, each ad featuring a theme in our Alpha

revolution campaign. The ads encourage audience to “dream professionally”, “work playfully”, and

so on, depending on the theme and will be featuring DIY photos by one of our weekly contest

winners of that theme, and a short blurb of the winner’s revolutionary statement. The design of each

ad will depend on the theme and the winner’s styles but the basic layout of our print ads will be burly
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background of a normal photo that will be transform to a high quality photo through the Alpha lens

when the audience moves a mockup paper Sony Alpha to the blurry photo.

This series of interactive print ads will be posted in magazines and public spaces. We will

focus on top fashion magazines which tend of have images consistent to Sony’s stylish and high-end

brand image. Data from China Advertising & Market Facts12 suggested that we should focus on

international and local magazines including Ray, Cosmopolitan, and Elle (ranked by air%) and Ruili

Yiren Fengshan, Shanghai Style, and Dushiliren (ranked by air%) as of 2006. The outdoor ad will be

posted in three place types with highest average monthly reach in 2006 across Chengdu, Nanjing,

and Wuhan. This includes the bus station (81.1% averaged from 3 cities), signpost (67.6%), and ads

on the bus body (57.7%)12. The venue of ad posting would be according to the popular chill out

places of youth in each of these three cities, such as popular karaoke venues, food streets, and

shopping streets. Additionally, half of the revenue spending for outdoor ads would be directed to

Wuhan and the other half for Chengdu and Nanjing, as Wuhan has a much more higher average

monthly reach than the other two cities.

Creative Execution II and Media Planning: Teen Idol Dramas

In China, a cultural phenomenon can be used by Sony to target the Sony Alpha to the

Millenials. This phenomenon is the creation of teen idol dramas – television programming that has

intrigued billions of Chinese youth. From the famous Meteor Garden ten years ago, there has been a

trend for young Chinese students to follow these idol dramas reverently. They identify with the

leading heroine and hero and understands the struggles and drama the character experiences. They

are attached to the relationships that the main character develops, regardless of whether it is

friendship or love. Using teen idol dramas, Sony can present professionalism and playfulness to

reach a target demographic, and show how the Sony Alpha can help the characters revolutionize

seeing the world in new angles.

12
Gao, Ruby. 2005-2006 China Advertising & Market Facts. Beijing: CTR, 2006. Print.
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One media outlet that Sony can use is through television, particularly the Anhui television

network, which is renowned for developing idol drama. Sony can work with this network to develop

a novel show that about romance, friendship, and how the Sony Alpha can capture these

relationships. Thus, through television, Sony can read out to millions of viewers in not just a

commercial aspect, but with hidden advertising within a show.

Another medium that can take advantage of this phenomenon is through popular online video

sharing sites such as Tudou and Youku. Sony could follow other companies’ footsteps, like Bud

Light Lime, in creating, producing, and sponsoring its own online show emphasizing the key points

about the Sony Alpha: how it can cause professionalism to be playful, but in typical Chinese idol

drama fashion with a heroine trying to figure out her complex life. A novel soundtrack will also be

created to emphasize these characteristics of the Sony Alpha. Each week, a new webisode can be

played, with opportunities for viewers to create MVs (music videos) to the online video series

musical soundtrack about what has happened and what the series holds in store for its primary

characters. This will create consumer-generated content where viewers can feature popular scenes

from the series or create their own real life adaptation of the songs with their own Sony Alpha.

PART IV: CREATIVE EXECUTION FOR THE US MARKET

Concept

In the US, there was a stronger focus on the seriousness of the DSLR camera. Thus, concept I

was rejected in this market because it did not address the accessibility of a DSLR camera, nor did it

reflect the current cultural values of American youth. They are not trying to revolutionize themselves

(it was a trend from the 1960s), but rather they just liked innovation. Concept III was rejected

because we did not want to associate the Sony Alpha with the typical DSLR camera as that market

share is already dominated by Nikon and Canon. It would be very difficult for Sony to break into the

market unless it found a niche for itself. Therefore, concept II seemed like the logical choice for

Sony to truly find its place in the DSLR market.


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Creative Execution I and Media Planning: Photo-Editing Application

One creative execution to Concept II is a photo-editing application with a similar philosophy

of the DIY tool in Sony Website for Chinese market. However, instead of launching a campaign and

SNS service, the photo-editing tool would be in app form. The decision to make this difference arise

from the insights gained from the Chinese and US focus groups. Conformism values held in China

provide incentive for users to be part of the Alpha community and be recognized as “in-trend”.

However, Western individualistic culture encourages users to focus on themselves and their

aspirations. Thus, the application is developed for users to customize their photos and say “my photo

is chic”. The goal of this application is to transform ideas of dull, professional photo taking held

among US youth to become chic. Unlike the DIY tool for Chinese market, this application focuses

on basic functions of the camera that shows off cool photo effects. This is because professionalism is

not viewed as trendy like in China market, and thus tying professionalism to a hip and fun campaign

would be “awkward”, as suggested by our US focus group. Thus, rather than on empowering users

that they can be professional, we provide default styles and easy-to-use functions of Sony Alpha in

our application so that users can become confident in their chic photos. Thus, instead of adjusting all

the camera modes, users see preview of different photo styles they can make their photos into, and

choose the one that makes her confident.

Media planning for the photo-editing application concentrates on new media because of the

nature of the application and the technologically equipped characteristic of American youth. We will

use an existing and popular SNS throughout America, Facebook, as our first media. Our Alpha

application would be available for access as a third party application in Facebook.com. After

asscessing the app, users select photos from their Facebook profile, edit the photos, and publish their

photo on their profiles or share with others. Our basic interface would be similar to the “Its My

Editor” application on facebook but the interface would be much more stylish and interactive,

reflecting Sony’s brand image. For example, users will see the uploaded photos through the lens of

Sony Alpha camera and click on the camera instead of menu buttons to adjust their photos.
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Additionally, we will also advertise this Alpha application in Facebook, since it is facebook

advertisement is relatively inexpensive and enables filtering of our target demographic. We will

advertise to female who has one of the following characteristics: age 18-25, in college, indicate

“likes & interest” or is connected to page, even, group, or application with tag lines photography,

taking pictures, party, fun time, shopping, girlfriends, fashion, and chilling out.

Furthermore, we will also build an iPhone app for the Alpha application, which operates on

three core functions: free, mobile, and share. First, the app will be free to download, thus attracting

young adventurous consumers. We also want to associate Alpha with mobility through this iPhone

app. Users may take pictures from their iPhone and directly send them to the app. Although this

may cause some user to continue using their iPhones to take photos instead of buying a Sony Alpha,

using the application will create an association of Sony Alpha with mobility but better than normal

mobile cameras because of its superior photo quality. We hope that our users would eventually say

“I’m confident to take my Alpha everywhere with me”. Third, we want to make it easy for users to

share their photos, thus spreading the words about Sony Alpha to their peers. After editing the

photos, users can submit their photos directly from the app to their Facebook, mySpace, and other

SNS sites, share photos in their blogs, email, print, or save the photo on their iPhone.

Creative Execution II: Brand Endorsement by Real Women

The “I am confident and chic – just like my Sony Alpha” concept has a particular catchiness

that makes a woman want to be described as a sophisticated and fashionable woman. Therefore,

Sony must employ creative campaigns that direct women to feel this emotion and that subsequently

forces them to feel an intrinsic attachment to the Sony Alpha. One creative execution would express

this through several advertising mediums is brand endorsements that feature mostly "real women."

These women can be women down the street, students, business women, and television characters

that young females admire. All of them share something in common: they exude sophistication,

success, and naturalness. All of these adjectives are aligned with the Sony brand position, and we
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want to place these brand ambassadors at the forefront of the Sony Alpha marketing campaign as we

believe that our target audience would truly aim to be like them.

Because our concept accents the casualness aspect of using DSLR, we want to avoid the

serious, boring aspects of professional DSLRs like Nikon cameras. It is a different market, and Sony

must take advantage of their brand position to target this demographic. We don’t want to feature

landscapes in our advertisements, but rather a group of women who are always laughing, enjoying

themselves, and checking out how the Sony Alpha can help them so see the world in a new light. In

the US, previous excursions into this demographic has failed, however, in part because the

advertising campaigns did not read its target audience correctly. For example, in Canon’s Like a Star

campaign, women felt that though Canon was “trying to make [the DSLR] seem chic,” it ultimately

failed. Perhaps it was due to the popularity and celebrity lifestyle of the endorser Avril Lavigne, but

our focus group felt that after watching the commercial, they did not feel creative or inspired. They

simply could not relate to Avril Lavigne’s celebrity lifestyle.

Therefore, we would like to avoid these mistakes. Although we think brand endorsements are

very effective, we want to put “real women” at the forefront of the campaign. They will most likely

be doing “causal” things, like grabbing brunch from friends, going shopping, hanging out at the

beach or at a pool. These scenarios all must demonstrate the social aspect of taking photographs.

These women are trying to capture their time together to reflect and enjoy later. They are using the

Sony Alpha to preserve these great memories in high quality so it can always be looked back on and

still evoke the happiness and laughter of the situation. The campaign will focus on the relationship

between a woman and Sony Alpha and how fun and right the feel is.

Several avenues of media can be used for this creative execution, beyond print ads and

television commercials. One medium are interactive blogs that are targeted towards college women.

On blogs such as CollegeCandy, the Frisky, and BellaSugar, advertisements can be found on the side

panel. Perhaps due to the content of the blog that day, the ad can change to reflect the blog tags
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(fashion, DIY tips, beauty, etc). Also, Sony can try to reach out to blogs and send certain mainstream

college blog writers Sony Alphas so that they can write a feature each week about different ways to

use the DSLR in everyday life. This would promote the Sony Alpha to its target audience in a much

more effective manner than its own SonyStyle blog, which does not draw the same demographic.

There are also alternative forms of blogs that take advantage of another medium, such as YouTube

video blogs that can have large impacts on a company, but not in the traditional sense. Although

Sony does have its own Youtube channel with sponsored videos about fashion and design, it is

consumer-generated content that makes the consumer feel more connected to the product. Two

beauty gurus on YouTube, juicystar07 and allthatglitters21, have over a million subscribers between

them and are a power sister duo that reviews everything from clothes to accessories to makeup. It has

been reported that items that they tout can sell out within hours. Thus, Sony should try to persuade

popular gurus on YouTube evaluate the Sony Alpha so that they can exert a pull on consumers who

want to see an “average” person using the product. They could even work with bloggers to develop a

Real World series, featuring how to properly use the Sony Alpha and how it can be cool and casual

in real-life settings.

In the television industry, another option beyond commercials is advertainment. In popular

shows like Gossip Girl that has a young female adult demographic, the use of a DSLR may enable

people to subconsciously want to purchase one. All the shows can feature strong women who want to

use a camera casually. In advertainment, the Sony Alpha will be cleverly placed to be hidden. It can

be mentioned in passing and there can be scenes branding the Sony Alpha that is simple focused on

taking photographs. The shows should reflect how real people have should capture their great

memories on camera, specifically the Sony Alpha. Another option similar to this is for Sony to

develop a collaboration with the CW television channel. The CW’s primetime television shows are

all designed to appeal to female high school and college viewers. Thus, a new television program can

be created to sell the Sony Alpha in a subconscious manner to the perfect target demographic.
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Finally, another medium for this creative execution can be in print or mobile advertising,

where a game is created for the consumer to “choose her own adventure.” (Appendix VI) Published

in women’s magazines such as Lucky, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Allure, these will be multipage

ads that will be a maze that will ask the consumer to identify the type of personality she has and what

she wants from a camera. It will figure out a person’s personality through questions like: What Sex

and the City Character are you most like? What song would describe your life? Using enticing,

colorful graphics, the advertisement will become a game that ultimate ends with the model of the

Sony Alpha perfectly fit for the female reader.

CONCLUSION

In the current US and China markets, the Sony Alpha is a viable product, especially through

our conceptual and marketing strategy. By identifying a youth demographic, we will be able to target

a new potential force in the market. In China, we can find Millenials in 2nd tier cities who “want to

create a revolution – professional is playful” through a DIY and teenage idol drama campaigns

featuring television advertainment, online blogs, video sharing sites, citizen advertising, and

interactive print ads. In the US, we can target female trendsetters with a “I am confident and chic –

just like my Alpha” concept that will use real women brand ambassadors and DIY creative

executions through interactive print ads, the blogosphere, television, mobile media, and social

networking sites to will new consumers to the Sony DSLR camera. We believe that our campaigns

will make the Sony Alpha a force to be reckoned with.


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APPENDICES

Appendix I: Chinese Focus Group Demographics

Appendix II: Focus Group Questions

1. Do you own a camera? What kind? What brand?


2. Please share your experience relating to Sony/DSLR (Story telling on Flashes of memory)
3. What do you want from a DSLR camera? What is their personalities, hobbies, styles, financial
and education background? (Collage Activity)
4. What is the Mood of Sony?
5. If Sony/DSLR is alive, what would it be?
6. Picture Sony as a celebrity. Who would Sony be? Canon/Nikon? DSLR in general?
7. Sony is ___________. (choose of lists of nouns, then verbs, then colors, then fashion styles)
Canon is______. Nikon is _______.
8. What’s the first image or word that pops into your mind when you hear “Sony”?
9. If you were selling this camera, can you act out what you would say as the salesperson?
10. When was the first time you used Sony?
11. Have you ever been tempted to use other brands? If so, which ones? Do you remember why you
were tempted?
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Appendix III: Sample Collages

Sony Users:

Canon User: Nikon User:


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Appendix IV: US Focus Group Demographics

Appendix V: Sony Alpha Website Mockup


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Appendix VI: Sony Print Interactive Game Mockup