Why We Buy Sony

by Holland-Mark | January 31, 2011

After m-Qube was sold in 2006 I found myself with a little extra cash, some of which I invested in a killer home entertainment system. The core of it was a 60″ SONY SXRD television, with just about the best picture I’d ever seen. It was a splurge, but hey, you gotta celebrate your wins.

Flash forward to the start of 2011… when during NFL Wildcard weekend I noticed both the Jets and the Colts were wearing white and green. Could it be? Had my baby gone bad on me over the span of just a few years?

Looking around online for clues later I found that the blue lights in the rear projection SXRD line had been going wrong, and that a class action suit had even been filed against SONY. Drat. It had been years since the expiration of the warranty, and despite being back in the building phase of a new agency and demonstrably less flush with cash, I began to steel myself for a major household purchase.

Before I started shopping around, I figured I’d call SONY, which I did.

After a 15-minute chat with a friendly and knowledgeable service rep, SONY apologized for the problem in my 5 year-old TV, and offered me three options:

  1. They’d refer me to a local technician who could come out to my house, take the TV apart, repair the problem, and put it back together. With the warranty out of date they wouldn’t cover labor which could run into the mid-hundreds, but the defective part would be on them.
  2. They’d replace the TV with a new, 50″ version flat-panel LED TV at no cost to me, including shipping and delivery.
  3. For an upcharge of $325, they’d give me a new, 60″ flat panel of comparable quality, including the latest generation of network and internet connectivity features.

I went with 3, and just finished setting up a brand spanking new 60″ Bravia EX500 HDTV. It’s just brilliant, and features direct links to my Netflix and Hulu accounts, something I had to jury rig in my old set.

I’m sure there are calculator-wielding marketing folk out there who question the economics of this whole transaction from SONY’s perspective, but I have to say that – even setting my own satisfaction aside – it’s a great example of what it takes to build and nurture a brand in 2011.

My inferred backstory here is that SONY made a conscious decision at some point to re-allocate $n million they were going to spend on a network TV spot, to invest it instead in shoring up the relationship between the brand and a few thousand early-adopter customers of high-end consumer electronics, people with whom they already had a relationship.

I think that’s pretty enlightened, and it’s the reason I’ll keep buying SONY going forward. Having read this I hope you feel the same, and that more brands start to get religion on the economics of loyalty in a social age.


I still have the 60″ SXRD set, with the defect described here. If anyone knows of a worthy place that could put it to good use, please let me know.

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