COMMENT: Last night Sony Australia finally admitted that they will launch their 3D TV offering in June to coincide with the 2011 FIFA World Cup. Right up to a few weeks ago Sony told journalists that their 3D TV launch will “definitely be in July and not June” as tipped by SmartHouse and ChannelNews from as far back as early April.
So why did Sony deliberately mislead journalists or as I suspect deliberately engage journalists as means by which they could engage in a program to misinform in an effort to mislead competitors?
Firstly the 3D TV market is brutally competitive and while Samsung has got in first and reaped the early success, the FIFA World Cup which is being played in South Africa and sponsored in part by Sony to the tune of over $500M, was looming as a major event which Sony wanted to capatalise on.
Sony International had already announced that they would cover the event in 3D. But behind the scenes Sony Australia management including CEO Carl Rose, and the head of Sony Australia Communications Jenny Geddes, wanted to seduce their competitors into believing that they would not be in stores during the peak World Cup buying period.
On 19 April, one week after Samsung launched their 3D offering a Sony spokesperson told Current.com.au that “Sony will still be launching 3D TV in July as scheduled”. This was in direct response to the question of whether Sony would be advancing its 3D release date as tipped by ChannelNews and SmartHouse.
Sony deliberately misled this publication because by this stage, April 2010, their 3D TV stock for Australia was already ordered from their factories, their marketing partners briefed and retailers shown the range that would be landing in stores for the 2010 FIFA World Cup which kicks off next week.
Sony was also talking to SBS the broadcaster of the FIFA World Cup about advertising and marketing opportunities.
The lead time to launching a product like a new 3D TV range is months not weeks and Sony most probably knew way back in February, when they first told journalist that they would not be taking advantage of the World Cup in June to launch their new 3D Bravia TV.
What I find disturbing is that Sony appears to have deliberately used the credibility of the media to engage in misinformation.
This is not the first time that senior management of Sony Australia have deliberately lied about events. Last year Sony attempted to gag 4Square Media by banning us from their launches because we wrote several stories about their price gouging practises, their poor performance globally and the sacking of staff in Australia. We revealed how their share of the flat panel TV market had plummeted from 32% to 14% as Samsung and Panasonic ripped share away from them.
Management at Sony Australia demanded that we pull down the stories or we would not have their “Cooperation”. “We would be banned” said Sony Corporate Communications Manager Jenny Geddes as she yelled down the phone.
She then followed through with her threat.
We responded by breaking story after story, we revealed that Sony was set to sell their OLED TV for $6,999 in Australia when it was selling in the USA for $3,500. We revealed how Sony sacked 32 people with a simple 32 word email; we revealed the constant price gouging of Sony products in Australia. We also wrote several positive product stories while handing out praise for several Sony products in our annual Best of the Best Awards.
In May 2009 only hours before Sony was due to announce billion dollar losses and slumping market share Sony Communications Manager Jenny Geddes issued a statement to the media where she openly lied about events surrounding myself and 4Square Media and the stories we had run about Sony.
She was trying to call our bluff in the hope that we would stop highlighting the problems that Sony was facing internally and in the Australian market.
Problems that had seen the Company pile up billions in losses, lay off over 20,000 employees, close 18 major factories and move manufacturing of products like their 3D Bravia TV to third Companies.
When we started to analyse the Sony brand , what we found underneath the facade of the Made In Japan Company was a host of major problems that had not been revealed in Australia.
Their actions in lying to 4Square Media last year and their misinformation campaign this year smacks of manipulation by a Company who expect the media to believe every word they say.
I for one don’t and I am sure that several journalists who were told that July and not June was the launch date for their 3D TV’s are now questioning Sony’s actions.
Way back in April Sony executives leaked information to me, indicating that Sony planned to launch their 3D TV program in June in an effort to take advantage of the World Cup. We also heard from retailers and other parties.
If I knew, so did Sony PR.