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Sony stages human billboard stunt at Wimbledon to push its 4K HDTVs

Sony's oddball marketing campaign coincides with the U.K. launch of its 55X9 Bravia and 65X9 Bravia Ultra HD televisions.

Sony is at Wimbledon this year pushing the wonders of 4K resolution to the strawberries-and-cream-eating masses at the famous British tennis tournament this week..

To prove just how amazing all those extra pixels can be, the electronics maker has turned one Wimbledon player into a running, volleying, back-spinning advertisement.

During the annual grass court tournament, Anne Keothavong, who is ranked number 5 in Britain and 217 in the world, is wearing ad copy so small Sony says it is only visible on television through the magic of 4K, also known as Ultra HD.

The words "Sony 4K Ultra HD" are plastered in miniature all over Keothavong, including her fingernails, the hem of her skirt, shoelaces, and other locations on her Wimbledon gear. Dubbed 'microtising'--a mash-up of microscopic and advertising--Sony hopes to use the ploy at other sporting events where the magic of 4K will be on display.

U.K. 4K launch

Sony's miniature marketing campaign coincides with the U.K. launch of the 55X9 Bravia and 65X9 Bravia Ultra HD televisions. Sony's 55- and 65-inch Ultra HDTVs--which feature a display resolution of 3840 by 2160 pixels--went on sale in the U.S. in April for $5,000 and $7,000, respectively. While the pricing for the 4K Sony TVs are out of reach for most people, these are the first Ultra HDTVs that didn't come with a five-figure price tag attached.

The only problem with 4K right now is that, even if you can afford a television with extra pixels, finding 4K content to take advantage of the resolution is a problem. Broadcasters aren't ready to start pumping ultra high-definition images through their pipes yet, so 4K early adopters must rely on a handful of upscaled movies from Sony to experience 4K at home. The good news for U.K. residents is they can experience Wimbledon in 4K onsite at the tournament or at Sony centers around the country, a Sony spokesperson told TechHive.

Sony says its miniature ad campaign will last as long as Keothavong stays in the tournament. So anyone wanting to see the British tennis star may have to act fast. Keothavong was knocked out of the singles competition during Wimbledon's opening day Monday, losing in straight sets to Garbine Muguruza. Keothavong still has to compete in the doubles tournament with compatriot Johann Konta.

Glass at Wimbledon

Keothavong wasn't the only women's player geeking out at Wimbledon this year.

American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, ranked number 58 in the world, is in the Google Glass Explorer program for early adopters.

The competitor had hoped to wear Glass during her matches at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and did show up for practice in London wearing the high-tech specs.

But Mattek-Sands was Glassless when she took to the court Tuesday for her first singles match. It's not clear if Wimbledon's overseers at the All England Club refused to allow her to wear Glass, but that seems to be the most likely reason.

Wimbledon is well known for enforcing a strict dress code for players, and complications with broadcast rights or sponsorship deals may have also stymied Glass' pro tennis debut.

Unfortunately, Mattek-Sands won't have a second chance to try out Glass at Wimbledon this year. The American lost her first singles match to Angelique Kerber in straight sets and isn't scheduled for doubles competition. Well, there's always Flushing Meadows in August.


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