Sony goes white

Image

Source: http://www.joystiq.com/2006/07/11/sony-pulls-controversial-psp-ads/

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

Reference:

1. Ludwig Kietzmann (2006). Sony pulls controversial PSP ads

http://www.joystiq.com/2006/07/11/sony-pulls-controversial-psp-ads/

2. Christopher Grant (2006). Ad critic: Sony’s racially charged PSP ad

http://www.joystiq.com/2006/07/04/ad-critic-sonys-racially-charged-psp-ad/

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12 thoughts on “Sony goes white

  1. I am also considering this issue: will some companies just like taking a risk making some controversial advertisements in order to attract attention from the public to achieve their goals?
    But i have to say that this action is very risky that once the public get angry or offensive about this advertisement, maybe the product will not be accepted by the public any more. So to a company, it had better not make some controversial advertisement to take such a big risk. —Chenlu Lou

  2. So cool ! The white woman and the poor black man“`I have a black PSP and I do not think white is better than black. I saw the racial discrimination in this commerical. I believe this commercial is not try to show us the white PSP is better than black PSP. It wants to tell us the white PSP is coming… However, we find that is different… in the pircture.
    –Zhilin Yang

  3. I doubt the reason why Sony made this Ad and later on withdrawed it. Is it another way to draw public’s attention to the new product?

    –Xiaowen Wu

  4. I think the ad includes racial issue definately… As you said, the Sony PSP is targeting the youth, so the ad’s target audience is also the young people. The worse thing is, in their age, they are trying to find adventurous things and this ad obviously increases the conflict. I think the brand image will be clearly destroyed by this ad in parents eyes. If they did continue doing this campaign, I even think they would receive a law suit for it.

    Yuyang Xie

  5. How can Sony put this advertisement in US market? Americans are sensitive on “white and black” advertisements. It indicates racial discrimination and violence. The world don’t need any more violence! I am a Sony fan. But I should say this may be the worst Sony advertisement ever.

    Yan Li

    • I agree that “black and white” issues are sensitive in the US. However, for me, originally, I thought the ad was cool! It had showed exactly what it wanted to say “white” is coming, if you really just think of the white PSP. They could have displayed a white PSP or someone using a white one, however, using two person to demonstrate instead would left people a greater impression. I feel so sorry that they didn’t consider the “black and white” issue in the US market, otherwise, this would be a great print ad!

      Regards,
      X.Ou

  6. This commercial includes racial issue definately!!! What’s kind of information the ad wnats to deliver to us? Is the white PSP is better than black one? or…

    They could make the comparison between the white psp with green, pink or other color psp. Even though, SONY is a Japanese firm and these is no white and black issues in Japan, however, in order to expand the international market to other countries, it is very necessary for a company to consider this issue and avoid making this kind of mistakes.

    Kuo Zhong

  7. After seeing this ads, I sense racial discrimination like every one does. However, I am trying to figure out its origianl purpose of this design. I feel like white PSP is designed for woman? Since the ads used a white female instead of male. Just a more female will choose white Iphone than male, Sony might design a white PSP to attract female players. Then the scene of fighting is common in the games. Sony just wanted to use the fighting scene to attract player’s attention. Just like Kuo Zhong mentioned before, “SONY is a Japanese firm and these is no white and black issues in Japan”.Therefore, they may not notice that the combination of these two ideas would related to racial issue.

    J. Zhang

  8. This definitely has some racial issue in the picture. Anybody realize the slogan in the left? “white is coming.” You can definitely say that in terms of the color of the new PSP. But when you relate the color of a PSP to the color of racial. Here comes the controversy. Maybe it’s not Sony’s attention, but I understand that some people won’t buy it.

  9. This definitely has some racial issue in the picture. Anybody realize the slogan in the left? “white is coming.” You can definitely say that in terms of the color of the new PSP. But when you relate the color of a PSP to the color of racial. Here comes the controversy. Maybe it’s not Sony’s attention, but I understand that some people won’t buy it.

    J Shen

  10. I agree with one of the comments that maybe the company intentionally create this type of controversial ad, that would probably let it become one of the most popular topics. I have to say no matter it’s intentionally or not, the company had reached their purpose-become popular.

    Miaokun Lin

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