After bloggers called out Sony this week on a PSP viral marketing website, SCEA has owned up to the fact that it was behind the promotion; company tells Next-Gen that the campaign was "poorly executed."
Alliwantforxmasisapsp.com was a marketing campaign fronted as an independent blog, whose authors supposedly had a friend (“Jeremy”) that wanted a PSP for Christmas.
One blog entry read, “…we created this site to spread the luv [sic] to those like j who want a psp! …consider us your own personal psp hype machine, here to help you wage a holiday assault on ur [sic] parents, girl, granny, boss—whoever—so they know what you really want.”
Suspicious net-goers, however, found that the website was registered to a marketing company called Zipatoni, which has offices in St. Louis, Chicago and San Francisco. The firm was also behind a related YouTube video featuring a guy referred to as “Cousin Pete” who was rapping about the handheld. Sony’s PlayStation brand is listed on the "clients" page of Zipatoni’s website.
Now Sony has amended the site, admitting the true purpose behind the blog:
Busted. Nailed. Snagged. As many of you have figured out (maybe our speech was a little too funky fresh???), Peter isn’t a real hip-hop maven and this site was actually developed by Sony. Guess we were trying to be just a little too clever. From this point forward, we will just stick to making cool products, and use this site to give you nothing but the facts on the PSP.
Sony Computer Entertainment America
YouTube videos related to the campaign have been removed, and comments on the blog have been disabled (although you can currently see the cached website here).
Next-Gen contacted SCEA PR boss David Karraker who answered a couple quick questions. When asked about the magnitude of this PR mishap, he replied, "Buzz and viral marketing is a common practice across the industry. In this instance, SCEA hired an outside agency to create a humorous ‘underground’ PSP site for the holidays. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the site didn’t come across as intended and we have since altered it."
When confronted about accusations that Sony underestimated gamers’ intelligence with the campaign, he stated, "Sony just released the most advanced console ever developed, so I doubt seriously that anyone would think we are underestimating our consumers’ intelligence. This was simply a marketing idea that was poorly executed."
Next-Gen also contacted Zipatoni’s Dawn Baskin regarding the website, who said that she was aware of the issue, but added, “At this point, we’re not prepared to comment.”
The Washington Post reported recently that it was going to investigate viral advertising cases in which the relationship between the endorser and seller is not disclosed. Sony’s viral site was created prior to the FTC statement.