COMMENT: Sony Australia’s chief spin doctor Jenny Geddes, who is desperately trying to smother the outpouring of bad news about Sony has taken to promoting her own image in local consumer electronic trade sites while taking yet another stab at myself and ChannelNews.
Earlier this year Geddes who spent several years working on the Microsoft account at PR Company Burson Marsteller, where she honed her media manipulation skills, tried to gag SmartHouse and ChannelNews from reporting on the fact that Sony is bleeding losses, laying off thousands and losing market share with key products like Bravia LCD TV’s and Sony Playstation gaming consoles.
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Several times during the past 12 months Geddes who heads an internal team of communication consultants at Sony has questioned 4Square Media about stories that she has described as “negative”.
On one occasion shortly after we revealed that Sony Australia was laying off 32 people Geddes threw a major hissy fit demanding that we take down a story relating to the sacking of the 32 people in Australia and the kidnapping of senior Sony executives involved in the termination of Sony staff in Europe.
As a company, Sony has always been overly protective of their image. Management still see the Company as a premium high quality consumer electronics Company that can charge a premium for their products.
However, consumers and leading industry analysts are seeing them differently with thousands of consumers now walking away from the brand because of design and pricing issues, with several of their products being seen as significantly overpriced when compared to the same products being sold in the USA.
During the past month, three senior industry executives including Activision CEO Bobby Kotic, gaming analyst Michael Patcher, DisplaySearch Director, for Small & Medium Displays Chris Cotty have criticised Sony for price gouging with their Playstation 3 gaming console. Activision even went as far as telling the media that they are considering dropping development of games for the Sony platform.
These are senior executives of major organisations involved in the gaming industry.
Slammed for poor management decisions several leading media organisations are now starting to question Sony’s performance and management decisions.
When SmartHouse has criticised Sony for price gouging in the past, Geddes immediate reaction has been to describe it as “bullying”, which is a bit rich coming from an executive who is a professional “spin doctor” and who has never once, supplied one shred of evidence to 4Square Media that our stories are either inaccurate or contain false information.
The only time that we became aware that inaccurate information had been posted online, related to a statement that Sony Playstation games contained regional coding. The story which was corrected after 90 minutes of being online resulted in Sony Computer Entertainment threatening 4Square Media with legal action.
In April Geddes orchestrated a letter to be sent from the Managing Director of Sony Australia Carl Rose banning 4Square Media from Sony events and press releases. The letter followed an intimidating and threatening telephone call from Geddes demanding that we pull down a recent Sony story.
When this failed she then called in Sony lawyers in an attempt to try and intimidate 4Square Media with the threat of legal action. This also failed because of a lack of validity to Sony’s claims.
Geddes timed the letter to be delivered only on May 14th only hours before Sony Corporate announced billions in losses and that nearly all of their core consumer electronic product groups, including camcorders and digital cameras. Bravia LCD TV’s, Sony Playstation 3 gaming consoles were losing money.
What Geddes is now trying to defend is a wholesale brand shift away from Sony made products. An example is in the flat panel TV market where this year Samsung has continually ripped market share away from Sony as they deliver a new generation of TV’s including LED TV’s.
In week 25 according to GFK data, Sony only had 18% share of the flat panel TV market compared to 36% for Samsung. 12 months ago Sony was the leader in flat panel TV’s. In an effort to hang on to market share Sony has been forced to give away PS3 gaming consoles and high end Blu ray players to attract consumers.
In the gaming market Nintendo has shredded Sony’s share of the gaming market with over 80% of the hand held market with their DSi and over 65% of the console market with their Nintendo Wii.
In the portable music market Apple have over 80% share with their iPod. This is a market that was once dominated by the Sony Walkman.
Sony’s reaction to hard core criticism is to bully and threaten and to throw their weight around.
Sony is a big consumer electronics brand that should learn to take the good with the bad. Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals are copping a fair amount of criticism at the moment but I don’t see them, banning journalists.
ChannelNews and SmartHouse not alone in highlighting Sony’s woes, both Fortune in the USA and the Economist as well as the British Times have run extensive stories highlighting Sony’s woes, price gouging and poor management decisions.
For Geddes this is a hard pill to swallow and I for one will not give up on writing about Sony’s problems which have come about after 5 years of poor management, a failure to deliver the right products to market at the right price and a marketing arrogance that tends to belittle smart brands like Nintendo. Remember it was Sony PR who said that Nintendo would never make it back into the gaming market and it was Sony PR that said that the iPod was a “fad”. And being Japanese they have always rubbished brands like Samsung and LG for being of all things Korean.