October 05, 2009, 8:13 AM — Last week I mentioned a survey which stated that 21% of respondents intend to get an e-reader this year. I found that number surprisingly high, but over the weekend I saw another sign that the e-reader's time may have come. Sony has a new TV commercial in its "Experts" series that focuses on the Sony Reader.
You've probably seen one of the commercials in this series: it features football player Peyton Manning and entertainer Justin Timberlake as the anchors of a rotating panel of 'experts' who magically appear to help consumers make electronics purchasing decisions. In the case of the Sony Reader ad, Manning and Timberlake are joined by Howard Berg, who holds the world's record for speed reading, and Amy Sedaris, comedienne and sometime author. After the inquisitive customer asks "So you can read hundreds of books on this?" Berg responds with a deadpan "I just did." It gets worse, but I'll embed the whole thing below.
If you follow the link at the end of the ad you'll get to the "Experts" (warning, Flash-heavy, sound enabled link) section of the SonyStyle website. Berg is gone and Sedaris is left as the expert in charge of the Sony Reader section, answering a selection of questions via short video clips. Granted the tone of the "Experts" ads is always fairly light-hearted (in one of the early ads, a giant chicken is one of the experts) but I'm not sure I equate Amy Sedaris with reading books or famous authors. If Sony can get Peyton Manning and Justin Timberlake, why can't they get Stephen King or J. K. Rowling?
Still, it is interesting that Sony is taking the e-reader market seriously enough that it is spending money on TV ads to market the device. As far as I'm aware, this is the first time an e-reader has been advertised on prime time network television. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that the purpose of the ad is to expose the Sony Reader to people considering an Amazon Kindle. If you had no idea what an e-reader was I think this ad would just be confusing, but if you were considering a Kindle it would make you aware there are other options. What do you think? Please leave a comment!