Magazine article Marketing

The Marketing Interview: Pierre Perron

Magazine article Marketing

The Marketing Interview: Pierre Perron

Article excerpt

Sony Mobile's president, North Western Europe, is putting speed and focus at the heart of the brand's return to the market, writes Matt Chapman.

On the wrist of the impeccably dressed Pierre Perron, president of the North Western Europe region at Sony Mobile, sits a Sony-branded watch During the interview he whips out his timepiece and, with a boyish twinkle in his eye, starts taking photos on the new Sony Xperia S smartphone using the watch's controls.

'We don't want to be a single-product company like some,' explains Perron, in his first in-depth interview as Sony Mobile chief, following its buyout from Ericsson. 'We want to be a one 'connected entertainment experience' company, which is the essence of what we will be doing, even down to your watch.'

This message is being communicated in a global TV campaign, which broke last weekend. Directed by Hollywood heavyweight Wes Anderson, it uses the imaginings of an eight-year-old boy to highlight how a Sony Xperia handset can be used to share content (see Campaign box, page 26).

'Children are the most imaginative people in the world. The brand campaign creative is making sure we inspire imagination through our products (as well as) content and entertainment capabilities around the product,' explains Perron.

The campaign not only serves to promote the capabilities of Xperia, but also marks the world debut of the Sony Mobile brand - one the Frenchman hopes will re-establish the company at the forefront of the mobile market.

Under the stewardship of Kazuo 'Kaz' Hirai, who takes over from Welsh-born Howard Stringer as president of the overall Sony Group this week (1 April), Sony will concentrate on making sure the myriad business units converge properly.

This is where the watch trick comes in. 'Kaz Hirai will make sure (all) devices, whether created by business unit A or B, are created with a common ambition and strategy to provide a seamless, compatible user experience,' says Perron.

Sony Mobile will be a cornerstone of this strategy, which is built around a four-screen 'backbone' of the TV, PC, tablet and smartphone 'This backbone is where we will be focusing a lot of our effort when it comes to our brand and marketing strategy,' he adds.

Perron acknowledges that Sony Mobile must prove itself through a solid performance. However, he believes that it is no poor relation in the context of the Sony group.

'In terms of creativity, innovation and engagement of people, I'm sure Sony has a high image of the people working in this organisation, but, like every business, we need to perform and this is the importance of a very strong marketing strategy,' he explains.

The ups and downs of the Sony Ericsson joint venture, which formally ended in mid-February when Sony completed the pounds 920m buyout of Ericsson's share, appear, at least on the surface, long forgotten within the business' UK headquarters in Hammersmith.

For Perron, one of the instant wins of the buyout has been the increased manoeuvrability it has given the company. 'Obviously we need to act at a much more accelerated pace and since the acquisition, things are progressing very fast,' he says, emphasising his point by highlighting how the rebrand has taken less than three months.

Sony Ericsson's market share had been on the slide and it posted a pounds 173m loss in the final quarter of 2011. However, Perron denies that the joint venture's problems were down to it being too slow. Rather, his intriguing argument is that it was its rivals that got faster. 'Our competitors did not wait for us,' he admits. 'The world is accelerating and our competitors are getting faster. We need to react and be even more proactive.'

Despite these feelings, Perron, who has been at Sony since 1989 and worked at Sony Ericsson for the duration of the venture, remains proud of the innovation it brought to the phone market. …

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