• November 18, 2005
  • Posted by Marc

Reactions to the Sony PSP Campaign

Comments on the SONY PSP ads:


“Actually I noticed right away that the characters were
playing with PSPs, but they are playing with them as if they are traditional
toys: a puppet, a rocking horse, a jack-in-the-box etc. I thought it was a
clever comment about how children today are playing with video games instead of
with “real” toys. An updating of the old “why aren’t the kids out playing with
each other instead of watching TV and getting fat” attitude. So I was quite
surprised to find that it’s probably a Sony marketing campaign: that’s surely
not a message Sony wants to send. On the other hand, if it gets the PSP in
people’s heads, then it’s working, I suppose. I approve because they’re cool
images, and I got to see them. I don’t care how or why they got

From Ryan:

“It’s hard to beieve
that they are ad’s based on what i’ve seen and what you have mentioned already.
If you havent seen these, there are more on both sides of christy st. (i
believe. if not somwhere around there) You see me and 2 friends were cruisin
around downtown, and we spotted them thinking and talking after finally
realising that they were psp’s. I thought it was some new kat throwin up video
game zomby type pieces, you know the character has swirly eyes and what not. I
just figured it was another artist highlighting the “youth of today.” Anyway, if
an advertisment/campaign, i’m not to sure it is that effective. No branding?
Everyone who knows of psp’s probably either has one or doesnt want one. I dont
know maybe i’am wrong. I dont evan like video games. (Sorry for the spelling
i’am lacing my shoes.)”


“I think Sony PSP?s wheat paste campaign is a terrific idea. It
conceptually and seamlessly integrates the Sony product with the characters. The
cryptic and mysterious street art-style execution works well with the PSP brand
particularly because Sony PlayStation has a history of mysterious, cryptic and
effective advertising that doesn?t hit you over the head with overt, dumbed-down
messages or slogans. And like the Time campaign (executed with Cope2) it?s a
seemingly effortless and engaging fusion of advertising and street art, which
will certainly get people talking (as we are right now). Finally if it can get
past the folks at Wooster Collective.com (c?mon guys, no excuses!) it must be

From Leo:

“I don’t like it.
bottom line, this IS for a video game gizmo, and although the characters are
engaged in some sort of physical activity, (that’s something american kids need
a lot!) there’s really nothing physical or creatively challenging in PSP video
games. The ad agency would be really pleased to hear that people like you (who
really know about street art) like it though. If they get to fool even the more
knowledgeable ones, then, of course they got the kids. I worked as a creative
director in advertising for over six years and I’m really glad I’m not a part of
that world anymore.”

From Elph:

thought when I first saw it it was kind of sayin that kids don’t play anymore,
they use the new toy the psp. Instead of running around playing and interacting
like human beings, they use a plastic toy to run around in a virtual 3d world
inhabit by 1’s and zeros. If it was to be realistic, I thought the kids should
be fatter. I don’t know if it shows the psp in a good way though, as an ad
campaign, it’s very subtle. I suppose it cost hardly anything to do and like
most of these things some guy had to go round, risking his ass, for a few bucks
for a big company. If that’s what it was for. That’s my tuppence worth, oh yeah
that JR video is one of the best things I’ve seen in years. A proper

From Saint X:

“Aaaaaarrrrggggghhh. I KNEW something wasn’t right about the thing
when I took a picture of it a couple weeks ago in san Francisco. Two kids. 6-
feet tall. Right near the new freeway off-ramp. Looked way too clean to be real.
Working for a branding firm, I’m adamantly opposed to this kind of infiltration
by the big corporations. Equivalent in my mind with viral marketing stealth
efforts to generate a buzz about a new product the unsuspecting masses by some
cool, attractive shill on the company payroll. If a corporation has a brand that
is truly of the style of the streets (skateboards, surf gear, etc.) I’m less
inclined to bitch. When Sony does it, it feels like they’re cheating. Wonder if
the city’s with Quality of Life laws are going to impose any fines or threaten
to send any executives to the lockup!! Thanks for the tip-off!”

From Devin:

“Could you not see the small PSPs in their
hands? Perhaps you could. Maybe you all enjoy them…I’d really like to know
why. I mean, it’s not as though fine art ever had to gain validity through
commercial enterprises at least in regards to mass-produced consumer products
(commissions are a different story), the people making ads (haring,etc) for
Absolut were artists before they did work for them you know? I think for an art
so tenuous as graffiti…to be forced into validity through marketing teams is
sad and as a whole terribly limiting. Soon graffiti is just going to be viewed
as another marketing technique or advertising style (if it already hasn’t), not
as a medium for proliferating art in a poignant way to large groups of people
outside of galleries and sanctioned festivals. Is that what we

Okay - So
here’s out take on the campaign: We kinda like it. But we also recognize the
problems with it.

So first, here’s why we like it: The ads are open
for interpretation. And we like this a lot. They don’t hit you over the head
with a two-by-four. Knowing what goes on at an ad agency, the ads actually show
restraint. There’s no URL on the poster that leads you to a Sony website to
“find out more.” There’s no Sony or PSP logo on it. It is what it is. And most
importantly, the characters are cute and infectuous. The ads are what you want
them to be.

But here’s the big problem with them:

At the
end of the day - being deceptive never fucking works. Ever. Doesn’t Sony know
that there’s something called the Internet? The real lack of restraint is that
the ads have been popping up all over the country. Because of sites like the
Internet, the campaign gets exposed as a fraud by the same people they are
trying to appeal to.

A few months back Time Magazine put up what was
initially a stealth ad using artwork by Cope2. The difference in what Time did
compared to what Sony did is that Time placed the Cope2 ad in only one location
- on our street on Houston and Wooster in Soho in NYC.

There was only
one ad. But Time knew that there’s something called the Internet, and that word-
of-mouth about that one ad could be more powerful then plastering the ad all
over the city - or the country. Because of the Internet, the Time ad reached
people all over the world. And the tone across the board was pretty positive.
Even after it was exposed as an ad.

Through sites like Wooster, the
Time ad got massive exposure. But what Sony did showed that they don’t fully
understand sites like the Wooster site. Didn’t they realize that the campaign
would be “self corrected” by real people who connect the dots between seeing the
images in Philidelphia and then in New York and then in LA?