Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bravia: A TV for Men and Women?

Could there be such a thing as a television for both men and women? What have I been watching for the past twenty years? The male-oriented model? Sony Bravia's new commercials claim to have designed something for both sexes: The other day I saw some ads for the new highly hyped set(no, not the awesome paint ad) in which both a man and a woman meet, and then, in TiVO fashion, the commercial stops, and you can either watch the ending for men or the ending for women. Each version plays out a different way, and multiple endings are available. Playful commercials, though they definitely lean heavily on gender stereotypes (one of the women’s ending is a romantic musical about shoes, the guy’s in one case is a sports drama).

The commercials (all variations of them) point towards a site further championing the wonders of this TV. What if a television had been built for both women and men in mind? Would it perform better? Would it have separate remotes? Would it have user-preferences? Would the interface be different? For these answers and more, I clicked to the site: continuing the gimmick, the screen is half blue, half pink. Viewers can click through different reasons it’s perfect for both sexes.

Only all of the reasons are exactly the same, albeit with different wording:

Why will women like this TV?

--Slim Design:
It’s called the Living Room, not the TV Room. And the designers of the BRAVIA LCD TV haven’t forgotten that. With its slim design and stylish look, the Bravia LCD TV only steals your eye when its on. If only the same could be said for his football lamp.

Why guys like it:
--Slim Design:
Translation: This is one killer-looking television. Enough said.

Ultimately, by using the different gender stereotypes, the Bravia proves that the same features are just as good for any viewer. They’re claiming their product transcends gender to provide the best viewing experience. It’s a unique approach—by creating a false problem to “solve,” the Bravia is able to stand out from the rest of the HDTV clutter.

In another take on the ads (besides the clutter issue), Eric Sory of Seen and Not Seen asks, “Why would Sony create a false schism and then claim to bridge that nonexistent schism?”

I'll tell you what I think-- this is all an elaborate kabuki. Sony knows that in a household with a man and a woman, the man's urge to buy an expensive, expansive TV will be met with resistance from his partner. So they've basically created this campaign as a way to help the man convince the woman to relent. "See, honey? This TV is special! It's for women too! There's a whole web site full of excu-- uh, reasons! Should we get the 46-inch?"

Whether or not this tactic will actually work remains to be seen- women now make 80% of purchasing decisions, and it's also been found that commercials and advertising don't affect them the same way cold hard facts will (Business Week).

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