Sony’s robot is better than Honda’s robot, we think.
How many times do we have to say it: there is nowhere to hide on the Internet. This time last year we were talking about how Sony had attempted to exploit street art to market the PSP and now the company has been caught astro-turfing on behalf of the brand. According to Brandrepublic:
Sony Computer Entertainment has been exposed as being behind an embarrassing online viral campaign intended to boost sales of its PlayStation Portable handheld console at Christmas.
A website appeared last month, at alliwantforxmasisapsp.com, intended to look like a genuine fan site unaffiliated to the brand. The site, which included a video clip of a “Cousin Pete” performing a rap asking for a PSP for Christmas, triggered suspicion among the gaming community about its creators’ impartiality.
Speculation that the website was a Sony creation was initially dismissed by the site administrators, who wrote: “We don’t work for Sony. And for all you dissin’ my skillz I’m down for a one on one rap off or settling it street stylez if you feel me playa.” [Quite].
It has since emerged that the site was created by Sony Computer Entertainment US.
Contrast this with the launch of the Wii. Now we don’t think that all of those pictures of Wii-related black-eyes and customised wrist straps are necessarily a Bad Thing. And recalls also have a tendency to make the heart grow fonder. At least it demonstrates that people are actually playing with the damn things… as The Mirror headline notes:
Wii-OWW! THE new Nintendo Wii games console is causing mayhem — as over-excited players hurl themselves around.
Meanwhile, we’ve seen a grand total of three PSPs this year. Another gauge? Flickr is already hosting nearly 21,000 photos relating to Wii to PSP’s 23,000.
The new Sony Bravia ad quietly references Kubrick’s ultraviolent classic.
It’s the time of the year for punditry… and lists. So forgive us if for a moment we get all trendspottery and suggest a few things we think we’ll see next year.
- As iPod sales start to slow down, we’re betting on a fierce brand-extension war between Apple and the other online music brands. Competitors have already started to emerge — see MTV’s tie up with Microsoft, Urge.
- In the same sector, we tip Napster to learn from Google and Yahoo’s mapping successes, and to offer a programming interface (API) for subscribers, so people can build their own software systems using Napster content — expect customised jukeboxes, recommendation systems and music-based games to flourish online. The benefit to Napster? Kudos to the brand which accrue from others’ innovations, a wider audience, and increased advertising opportunities.
- We’re waiting for a Friday night TV show which features real-time ‘stupid shit’, news and interviews contributed live via 3G mobiles by amateur viewer/reporters out and about around the UK and worldwide — the trash culture flipside of OhMyNews. Expect flash celebrity for a few contributors to follow, and a big spike in phone sales.
- Still on TV, we expect at least one channel to broadcast experimental blocks of ‘ad-free’ prime time programming to test the waters of post-interruptive-advertising television — probably initially sponsored by a major car brand.
- Flyposting will be banned in London as Ken sides with the Government on a ‘respect‘ agenda.
- Sophisticated services offered via Skype will be the surprise eCommerce success story of the year, with third-party developers exploiting the ubiquitous telephony provider’s APIs to provide simple, effective voice access to information, retail and search services in exactly the way that screen-based systems thus far haven’t, for the mobile multitudes.
- Namecheck BST when territorial disputes over mining rights in polar regions recently exposed by global warning become a major news story, and a source of growing international tension.
- And a big ‘we told you so’ if Interpol reveals that an unlikely counterfeiting alliance of criminals and ‘just because we could’ hackers has adopted open source development methodologies to make undetectable fakes of a major currency, which subsequently has to be completely withdrawn from circulation, redesigned and reissued.
- Long odds but not impossible: Sony’s launch of non-Sony-branded hardware or media, in an attempt at a fresh start after the horrors of 2005.
- We will be saddened but not surprised if a PC virus takes out one of the emergency services for at least a day.
- 3G. Finally. Yes we’re surprised too.
Sony’s attempt to use quietly-branded graffiti to promote its PSP has spectacularly backfired.
The street art community has reacted to the work as a corporate invasion of their space and retaliated in spectacular style – from daubing ‘fony sony’ across the work to our personal favourite: ‘I don’t want this for Christmas’. Street art site Wooster is cataloguing the various attacks on the PSP graffiti, which Sony paid genuine artists to execute. Meanwhile Wired has stirred up the debate online with a scathing article, sample text:
Advertising firms call it genius, but the word on the street is less flattering.
The Sony ads are the subject of much discussion on Flickr where the artwork can be seen ‘clean’ and street art site Wooster have posted a passionate polemic on the subject.
The mainstream media (in this case the International Herald Tribune) have now picked up on the story, reporting “Sony aims at hip crowd, but bid backfires a bit”. Given that the graffiti story is a mere footnote compared to the far more damaging revelation that some of Sony’s music CDs contain illegal spyware, we would say – no kidding.
Could the Playstation Portable become the video equivalent of the iPod? Or just another online piracy tool?
Although the PSP is designed primarly to play games, it can also store digital photos, play MP3 files and play video. There are a number of portable video devices on the market already – pocket computers, mobile phones and media players. But none have had the crucial support of the film studios who are already producing films in formats suitable for the PSP. The PSP also has the added attraction of a widescreen format and a bright screen that makes it possible to watch outdoors.
It helps that Sony has its own film studio but Fox, Universal, Paramount and Buena Vista have also pledged to produce films for the device. Of the majors, only Warner and Dreamworks (rather critically) have yet to embrace the format.
Films for the PSP come on a new disc format, the Universal Media Disc (UMD). The disc can hold three times as much data as a CD – enough for a ‘DVD-quality’ movie. According to the BBC, more than three million UMD movie discs have already been sold in the US, with two films – Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse and House Of Flying Daggers – selling 100,000 copies each in the first month since launch.
But despite being a hit in the US, UMD is not faring so well in the classic early-adopter market of Japan. A recent survey of Japanese PSP users found that only 10% had used it to watch a UMD movie. This may be due to the explosion of file sharing culture where high broadband penetration and file sharing software such as BitTorrent is enabling users to download films and TV programmes off the Internet illegally. Moreover, most of this content can be easily converted to watch on the PSP with some pirates already providing ‘PSP friendly’ versions of films and shows. Ironic that a company such as Sony may be giving consumers the very tools that they need to undermine their business.
PlayStation continues its quietly cunning sponsorship of out-there creativity with PSP presents Amaze Me from September 4 at Dover Street Market.
Playstation Portable has collaborated with Showstudio.com — Nick Knight’s ambitious online fashion/art/photography lab — to hold Amaze Me. Using webcams and photobooths, the event will be staged at London’s Dover Street Market [see previous post re 'Anti-Chic' ]. Anyone and everyone is invited to present themselves for 30 seconds – dancing, singing, hawking designs whatever. The presentations will then be uploaded onto the Showstudio site for the public and the judges to scrutinise. The one that simply amazes the most will win. The PSP blurb reads:
AMAZE ME is inspired by the brief issued by art director Alexi Brodovitch to photographer Richard Avedon — simply to ‘amaze him’.
The challenge asks you, the public, to respond to a brief set by a panel of six leading creative industry figures. Come along to one of our micro-studio booths and make a 30 second video pitch.
The best six entries will win a Sony PSP Playstation Portable, plus an exclusive opportunity to connect with the panel member of your choice.
Brands trying to buy their way into youth/fashion/whatever culture is nothing new. Only this week, Coke announced that it had briefed Warp Record’s design agency (Designers Republic) to come up with packaging ideas.
What is interesting about Playstation is that they have started with relatively niche — but increasingly important and radical — cultural properties right on the edge of the mainstream. Perfectly in tune with their brand and right on the money in terms of audience as well. Sister brand PS2 (notice the extremely subtle branding) also hosts the stage that Hackney’s weekly ‘Tranny Talent Night’ is held on at Bistrotheque. Very ‘out there’. Very cunning. Very right.
Sony has become the latest blue chip advertiser to sign an advertising deal with bloggers. Sony has signed a deal with Gawker Media for exclusive sponsorship rights to LifeHacker, a just launched blog about personal gadgets.
For a reported $25,000 a month, Sony also gets placements on Gizmodo, which attracts 1.3 million techies a month
Gawker Media are savvy lot – the blog blurb reads:
“Gawker Media – Gawker and ten other weblog titles – brings a young and influential audience to brand advertisers. Click here to find out more about sponsorship opportunities.”