Sony’s stock-car star expected to fire HD market

Willferrellbaroncohen As many as 500,000 people are expected to attend San Francisco’s Gay Pride Celebration and Parade this weekend, while the fanatical followers of Nascar have also arrived in the Bay Area, filling fields with RVs for the latest event on the racing calendar at Sonoma’s Infineon Raceway.

This mixture of gays and rednecks has probably only been matched by the movie Talladega Nights, where Sacha Baron Cohen stars as a gay French Formula 1 driver challenging Will Ferrell’s hard-driving good ol’ boy Ricky Bobby.

Sony Electronics’ announcement of a personal endorsement deal with Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr this week was like a scene straight out of the movie.

Staged at the top Napa winery, Nickel and Nickel, Earnhardt appeared on stage with Stuart Redsun, Sony’s head of corporate marketing, and delivered some classic Ricky Bobby-style quotes.

“We’re looking to partner with people that match my brand – I’m still trying to figure out what that means but I’m starting to giddit,” he said.

“My father had the Mr Intimidator style, when I came in I didn’t have that niche, I’ve just tried to be as down to earth as possible, the guy you run into at the gas station.”

He also confessed to being a huge Barry Manilow fan: “He’s awesome, American Bandstand, it’s not just me [that likes him] is it?”

And yet Earnhardt appears to like to crash and put back together computers and consumer electronics as much as cars.

“I can wire with the best of ‘em, if you want to talk the limits of technology, there’s so many things you can do with computers, some work out, some end up in sparks and fires,” he said.

As a test driver of Sony products, he may get through a lot of Vaios, but he is also likely to sell many more televisions to a demographic that , according to Sony, never stops watching television, and car racing in particular, in high definition and on big screens.

Sony already boasts the highest average selling prices and market share in the US HD market and hopes to lap its rivals with personality-driven endorsements of its products from cross-over sports stars such as Earnhardt and Peyton Manning of the NFL.