When I read the June 16th news that Sony’s new 32” Bravia LCD TV uses up to 30% less energy, I was thrilled with the idea of saving the planet while sitting on the couch. In one demonstration, a press release stated, a watt-counter attached to the new 32-inch Bravia showed it consumed just 82 watts of energy to show a Blu-ray disc image of a Spanish city on its display, while a comparable model required 125 watts to show the same image. Joyous celebration! Pass the free-trade popcorn! 

But digging further, I discovered this is really nothing new. In fact Sony already received the European Green Television 2007-2008 award for its 40” Bravia KDL-40D3000. And according to one statistic, these LCD screens already use up to 67% less energy than a standard old-school CRT. So one would think this would be rich fodder for a creative ad campaign.

Instead, the brain trust at Sony (and their agency, Fallon) went with the tag-line ‘Color like no other’ – a nothingspeak statement that would make Orwell proud. Their ads over the last few years, ‘Play-Doh Bunnies’, ‘Balls’ and ‘Paint’ have spared no expense to prop up this lame line. One commenter on YouTube summed it up: “I hope they don’t get their paint from China”.

To be fair, these examples of cinematic excess have received recognition worldwide from the advertising elite, and I guess they must be moving product (although most ad awards are no measure of business success). But for my money, they fail to effectively differentiate the Sony product from any other.

How about showing some real consumer advantages of an energy-efficient TV? Watch three periods of hockey, but only use the energy of two… Show a couch potato attaching his Bravia to an exercise bike in a power failure, and having enough extra wattage to power his beer fridge… or picture a spot featuring a tree hugger biking home to his straw-bale house, grabbing a salad from the garden then settling down in front of his 32-inch Bravia to watch NASCAR.

Perhaps Sony and Fallon have some research showing consumers are more interested in bouncing rubber balls and clowns prancing in front of paint splats than in saving energy, money and the environment.

But in an era where our survival may depend on making better energy choices, I would hope a brand as iconic as Sony would lead instead of follow.

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