Saturday, October 31, 2009

The History of PSP Advertising

The hugely popular Play Station Portable (PSP) handheld game console manufactured by Sony, which was launched in 2004, had sold more than 52 million pieces by the beginning of May 2009. The success of its marketing campaign can be judged by the fact that it had initially trailed Nintendo in the total quantities sold for the first 3 years after launch, but picked up after that and now leads in market share.What many people are unaware of is that there have been a number of controversies regarding Sony's promotional campaigns to increase market share of this, one of their most prestigious products and a big profit earner. Some of the issues related to the PSP advertising campaign are listed below:•A online guerrilla marketing campaign for the PSP console to try and go viral in December 2006 by the Zipatoni advertising firm of St. Louis in the US put Sony under a lot of scrutiny for unfair trade practices. The firm had got advertisers to pretend to be young bloggers desperate to get themselves a console by any means possible. The blogging and related sites were traced back to the advertising agency and then back to Sony.•Earlier the same year, Sony released an ad in the Netherlands showing a white woman supposedly intimidating a black woman, with the message that 'PlayStation White is coming'. Apparently Sony was trying to convey that the consoles were available in these 2 colours. This particular image was considered in bad taste because of its racial overtones and implied threat. While 2 other images with the same participants were also released, these were not so controversial as one showed the black woman dominating over the white woman and the second had the two women facing each other, seemingly about to start a fight. All these ads were removed after the controversy erupted in July 2006 in that country and they were never released elsewhere in the world.•A PSP poster campaign in the UK had one design with the slogan 'Take a running jump here', When these were put up in a Manchester Piccadilly tram station, the posters were asked to be removed as authorities considered that it might suggest suicide to those who were so inclined. This controversy happened in 2006.•Sony had hired graffiti artists to spray paint PSP advertisement on walls across San Francisco, New York City and Philadelphia towards the end of 2005. Philadelphia's mayor had filed a 'cease and desist' order against Sony and threatened further legal action, including a criminal case. Sony admitted the charges but said it was paying owners of the buildings as well as businesses for using their walls as advertisement space.Although the above examples may seem minor controversies, it reveals to what extent Sony felt pressure to ensure the full and unhindered success of the Play Station Portable. Having achieved that, the controversial campaigns also seem to have tapered off. In all likelihood it would have been the local branches / franchisees who would have implemented these campaigns.

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