The MP3 player, Rolly was created to fulfill one of Sony’s key objectives: to develop innovative, unique products. However, it had been designed with a Japanese audience in mind and consequently met with a poor reception from American consumers and technology media at its US launch.

The aim of the campaign was to reposition the product ahead of its European launch.

Little interest

From Sony-commissioned research we knew the tech-savvy audience had little interest in the product. This meant a different audience had to be identified.

We targeted the Slash/Slash generation: a group of young people, with multiple interests, who are highly connected on and offline. This group constantly collaborates on a variety of projects across multiple networks, which meant their approval of Rolly had the power to change perceptions of the product within these communities.

Using social networking sites such as MySpace, Skyblog, Facebook and ‘Don’t Stay In’, we identified the Slash/Slash influencers across Europe and gave them exclusive access to a Rolly and the means to capture their content. Each individual was allowed the creative licence to develop their own concept such as a video, picture or photoshoot. The only condition was that a Rolly had to make an appearance in their final creation ‘in action’.

Creating advocates

These relationships were maintained across the course of the campaign, creating a group of Sony advocates that continue to act as brand guardians online.

Over 70 per cent of those contacted created content, which was distributed via social networking sites and blogs; uploaded to video sharing platforms; and added to social bookmarking sites.

There was no formal endorsement, no fees were agreed and no one was under any obligation to produce content. Instead, the campaign appealed to the Slash/Slasher’s desire to maintain their status within their own community (as they had exclusive access to a product still waiting for its European launch).

The buzz built to such an extent that a UK music artist and television star, Goldie, made a video diary, featuring Rolly, during his European tour. He had not been directly approached, but had seen Rolly in action online and wanted to try one out for himself.

Social media repositioned the product 

78 video clips were received from 12 countries and were viewed over 400,000 times. Rolly was repositioned as a product that had appeal and was worthy of word of mouth recommendation.
There was no reliance on traditional marketing activity. Instead, clips from the campaign were edited into demo films for use in store and online across Europe. This meant that the campaign was not only effective, but efficient, delivering results at a fraction of the marketing spend normally associated with pan-European activity.

Sales were 150% higher than forecast.

And Rolly won Stuff magazine’s ‘Cool Toy of the Year’ award, adding to the product’s credibility through endorsement from a trusted media brand.