The picture above features Sony’s PlayStation Portable advertisement. The advertisement managed to court controversy from across the globe, soon after its release. The controversy focused around whether this ad had a racist undertone to it. A white woman fixes a black woman with a decidedly hostile look and it almost seems like she tries to kill the black woman in the picture. The white woman is portrayed as being so powerful that the black woman isn’t able to pose any resistance to her whatsoever. Many people felt that the ad signaled racial discrimination quite blatantly. What’s more, most potential consumers of Sony’s PSP are young people, and the racial implication would hurt black teenagers and cause a very negative influence on their sense of worth. It could lead to white children considering themselves to be superior to black children and also bullying black children more often.
Apart from the demerit mentioned above, we also think that this advertisement is a reverse side case of model’s pose. The model painted in white could scare young kids. Many parents would also take offense to this picture as it portrays violence which could lead to kids imitating model and resorting to violence more often in daily life.
Sony revoked this advertisement after more and more people hammered it, and apologized for its mistake. Sony though, insisted that they just wanted to promote their white PlayStation Portable by using this picture, and never had any other purpose. This picture emphasizes contrast of color between the new edition PSP and the old edition with black appearance. And if someone questioned if the horrible picture would impact young people negatively, maybe Sony would claim that they only wanted to attract young people by using a cool picture!
This advertisement was showcased on billboards for only six weeks. But due to viral nature of the Internet, and the controversy caused by this ad, it is still being circulated around the web. We would say that this is an effective advertisement as it attracted the attention of many consumers. To some extent, it broke the local restrictions of outdoor advertisement. This new edition of the PSP became widely popular. At the end of this blog, we question whether making the controversial advertisement is an approach of Sony to promote its product, although the company firmly asserted that the original idea of this advertisement was simply to convey the information about the new PSP.
Written by Kaiyu Xiong
1. Ludwig Kietzmann (2006). Sony pulls controversial PSP ads
2. Christopher Grant (2006). Ad critic: Sony’s racially charged PSP ad