Sony Corporation, the planet's tenth largest advertiser (by 2003 billings) and acclaimed for five years running as 'best brand' in the USA, has appointed a non-Japanese executive chairman for the first time in its fifty-nine year history.

The chosen Shogun is Welsh-born Howard Stringer (63), now a US citizen, a former president of CBS and these days chief executive of Sony's US operations.

Stringer, whose command of Japanese is reportedly zilch, replaces Nobuyuki Idei, whose ten years in the hotseat culminated last month in the issue of a profits warning for its electronics division for the second time in as many years.

The groundbreaking appointment of a distinguished gaijin (Stringer received an honorary knighthood from the UK's Queen Elizabeth in 1999) symbolizes Sony's determination to bring about corporate change.

The company has been spectacularly wrongfooted over the last two years by Apple Computer's agile iPod and iTunes brands and Stringer's appointment - he will also double as chief executive - is seen as a direct counter-attack on that dishonorable state.

Promises Stringer: "We look forward to joining our twin pillars of engineering and technology with our commanding presence in advanced devices and forms of entertainment to the consumer".

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff