Digital will lead a £45m global push for this critical launch, which emphasises how it has earned its place at the heart of integrated campaigns.
It highlights the ever increasing marketing budgets being allocated to the internet, which topped £653.3m in 2004. Online overtook radio at the end of last year with a market share of 4.3 per cent, against radio's 3.8 per cent.
This looks set to rise. Sony Ericsson has allocated up to 15 per cent of the new campaign's budget to digital; an increase of five per cent on 2004, says Dee Dutta, corporate VP and head of marketing at Sony Ericsson.
"Digital has always been the focus of our strategy since I have been head of marketing," he says. "It's a great interactive medium and it will play a significant part of Sony Ericsson's marketing strategy."
Meanwhile, electronics brand Panasonic spends about five per cent of its marketing budget online. "We spent more than we did last year and it's certainly rising," says Paul Williams, general manager, Panasonic marketing, Europe.
"In the past, all of our campaigns were advertising driven. We would develop an ad and form our campaigns around it. Now we've moved to a more integrated approach, involving all the agencies," he explains.
It is no longer a case of briefing the above-the-line agency and then replicating its creative concept for the internet. All the agencies are involved from the first briefing. "We prefer them to work together and not just come back to us with an A4 printout of their idea. Instead, it is best that they completely integrate the campaign - it brings all the different channels together," adds Williams.
Philips is about to use the web to launch its products through a campaign developed by Tribal DDB. Online offers the chance for deeper communication with audiences, but Bill Brock, the agency's managing director, thinks it is wrong to say that digital should lead campaigns: "We are moving in a much more ideas-orientated direction."
Brock says the agency has worked with its above-the-line sister agency, DDB, on campaigns for Philips, VW and Hasbro. The two work up an initial marketing idea and then choose the best channels to deliver it.
"As far as how it is executed, the channels used to communicate the ideas depend on where the customer is, and what relationship the customer has with the product," he adds.
De-construct business development director Dan Douglas says advertisers are becoming more progressive: "Clients are certainly more open to digital communications and are being more ambitious in terms of what they feel they can achieve with digital marketing."
Certainly, digital is where audiences are migrating, especially brands like Sony Ericsson, which targets a young, technology-savvy sector. "More and more of our consumers haven't got the time to spend in font of the TV," says Dutta.
"TV is very important for our brand, but online is equally important.
It's a medium that lets audiences interact with a product and message.
"They can find out as much as they need without interruption because they do it in their own time zone," he continues. "If you are a consumer who wants to know about the Sony Ericsson W800 phone, you can watch the commercial online and then get the information at a time that suits you."
It all comes down to handing control to the customer. "People are so busy - I don't know about you, but I hardly have the time to watch TV," adds Dutta.
Meanwhile retail brands can speak to people as they shop, says Panasonic's Williams. "This means the internet is increasingly important in our industry." He points to research showing that in a couple of years more than 30 per cent of all electrical products will be bought online.
Online is also home to price-comparison web sites, which can influence campaign work.
"It's increasingly obvious that people will check the internet first to research a product they are interested in, then go into shops and talk to salesmen, and then go back home to the internet to find the cheapest offer," explains Williams.
"It's not just the role of digital in communications that is changing dramatically, but digital's role in the whole buying process," he adds.
But integrating online into a global campaign is not without its challenges.
Brock feels that any problems are predominantly about getting beyond the 'matching luggage' idea of ensuring everything looks the same and focusing on strategic integration.
"If you have a partnership off-line with Sky, how do you bridge that partnership online and get more for the client?" he asks. "And how do you drive traffic from a potentially interactive TV ad to a web site?"
Brock reckons the real challenge to overcome is more about how the various channels interact with each other.
Yet, there are still technical issues to overcome across platforms.
Dutta feels that online and mobile are taking precedence at the moment, but iTV is still one to watch. "Some people find some of the interfaces too slow," he explains.
However, as broadband penetration becomes ubiquitous, it has emerged as a pervasive means for brands to communicate, especially in Asian markets.
"In fact," adds Dutta, "in Korea, more people spend time in front of the computer screen instead of their TV."
SONY ERICSSON'S GLOBAL CAMPAIGN FOR THE W800 MOBILE
- The online campaign premieres the director's cut of a 60-second TV movie, which users can view prior to the first TV transmission in their area. This is driving the integrated campaign, which spans print, outdoor and cinema activity, and also flags up the TV push.
- The commercial 'Catch a Thief' is trailered on Sonyericsson.com/w800 and was developed by dare.
- Site visitors are also offered alternative endings to the movie.
- Consumers can log onto Walkmanphones100.com to access related interactive content and vote for their favourite songs of all time. Those who register can enter a competition to win one of the phones.
- The TV movie, created by ad agency Bartle Bogle and Hegarty, shows the hero changing the music on his handset as he chases a criminal across the streets of New York. As he's about to leap from a rooftop to catch the thief, the music stops to allow an incoming call through.
- Dee Dutta of Sony Ericsson says: "We're delighted to support the launch of the Sony Ericsson W800, and wider Walkman phone range, with this genuinely integrated and imaginative, international marketing campaign."