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PSP Ads Are Beyond Idiotic

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A new line of Sony PSP ads touting the upcoming white PSP goes so far beyond reasonable decorum they defy description.

The ads, which have been rolled out in Amsterdam, are so racially charged it would take a four-year-old about two seconds to realize they’re just plain wrong. In the ads, a white woman with bad hair and a mean scowl is grabbing the face of a black woman. The writing on the ad simply proclaims: “PlayStation Portable White is coming.”

Makes me want to rush out and buy three or four PSPs – not!

Kind of makes you wonder who got paid to create this campaign and why. What the heck was Sony thinking? OK, it would appear as if Sony isn’t thinking, at all.

Per Joystiq, Sony, it seems, is claiming the ads are meant only to show the contrast of colors the PSP offers. They’re not meant to send any other message.

Well, that’s just great, but it still seems rather odd that looking on the Dutch PSP site it appears as if Sony’s trying to market the white PSP to whites and the black one to blacks.

Perhaps Sony really didn’t mean anything by it. Maybe they thought having ads where it appears as if one person is about to put a serious hurting on another is a great way to sell their new PSP. Maybe, just maybe, the racial issue never occurred to them.

Yeah, right! Sony's been in trouble before over its PSP ads with much less offensive material. They should know better.

And while there are some images shot for the campaign that have the black woman dominating the white woman, the question still remains: What the heck does this have to do with a portable gaming console?

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  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    It’s only racist if you want it to be. I really wonder what the reaction would be if the woman/PSP colors were swapped. I can’t even fathom where you got the idea their marketing specific colors to certain people. It’s an ad that’s being way overreacted to.

  • http://sterfish.blogspot.com Sterfish

    I think the problem with this campaign is not necessarily the black/white element but the way it’s portrayed. Each of the three ads (white dominant, black dominant, and equal footing) implies that a battle (or violence) is about to happen. The fact that women represent the PSPs likely feeds into the notion that guys like to see women fight (or rather, women who are about to fight). If the violence element were removed, you’d probably remove the controversy.

    As it stands, it’s not really as daring a campaign as it could’ve been. There is a part of me that would’ve loved to have seen a black person represent the white PSP and a white person represent the black PSP. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it would’ve been more striking visually to see a black person with snow white hair and a white person with jet black hair.

  • Andrew Ogier

    The ad is designed to cause controversy. Just like when music videos are banned, the controversy garners so much more attention that the song shoots up into the top end of the charts.

    The advert is DESIGNED to cause outrage. Just look at it already. Every major computer based website is ranting and raving about these ads, either in defense of, or against them, and the campaign has everyone’s eyes affixed onto it, giving the advert a much wider audience. The PSP is on the tips of everyone’s lips now.

    Fantastic marketing by Sony. Everyone’s giving Sony EXACTLY what they wanted by writing posts about it.

  • Rory

    I have to agree with both of you, although everyone is saying ‘oh, what tasteless adverts’, Sony has now got lots of people talking about the PSP, and stolen some of the Wii’s chat.

    I think everyone who is actually looking beyond the differences in the PSP’s colour is a bit racist themselves, if we live in a society where blacks and whites should be treated equally then we should not be looking at the two women and going ‘oh its a white woman being violent to a black woman’ we should be going ‘oh there’s two women fighting, and ‘oh look there’s a new PSP colour out’

    This advert has caused even more Sony bashing to occur as well, can’t we just give ‘em a break? Remember this is the company who brought us the highly popular Walkman, the superb Sony Ericsson phones, the dominantly popular Playstation etc.

    Everyone should just take a deep breath, and calm down, this advert has been WAY over reacted to.

  • Shey

    I think the real question comes down to what the writer asked: What the heck does this have to do with a portable gaming console?

  • http://kingkrool.thenoodleman.com/ Kevin Cortez

    “Squirrel, pleeeeassseee.”

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    in todays society you cannot have an ad that portrays a white person doing something negative to a black person whether its unintentional or not. sony knew this would happen and they knew it would be talked about. so the bottom line is sony is using racism to sell their product.

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    Here’s a thought. If you aren’t from Holland, shut up. It’s an ad design to fit within their culture, not yours.

    The ad is not racist, you only think it is because your culture has such a nasty history of racism that it’s your gut reaction to label anything contrasting black and white as being racially biased. The fact is European countries don’t have your history and don’t jump to suck conclusions.

    If you look at the ad it’s cleary meant to contrast the 2 colours of the PSP system. They just happen to be Black and White.

    Read this and it might offer further insight: Racism: A different view on the Issue

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    (this is the op-ed I posted on my blog earlier)

    Is the White PSP ad racist?

    No.

    Both Kotaku and Joystiq are reporting on a new ad Sony is running for the new (if you live in North America) white PSP. Of course both of these upstanding social institutions started the FUD off right with well written headlines.

    They say “offensive” (Kotaku) and “racially charged” (Joystiq) but I say “bull shit.” Of course hundreds of commenters hash out why or why not the ad has racial connotations to it.

    The dominance card just doesn’t fly, considering the third image. Not to mention that the symbolism that black and white PSP equals black and white human being is so plane and simple — and quite frankly, brilliant marketing.

    The people who are racist here are the people writing the articles and commenting on them. If you cannot understand symbolism then I am not sure you would understand racism to begin with.

    Of course these are the people who say that Loco Roco is racist, because it has black (OMFG!) bad guys in it.

    Chill out people. If you go looking for a black eye, you will likely find one.

    What if it was a black man in that above ad? Huh? What would that mean?

    Does it make me racist that I want a white PSP? Because I want a white PSP.

    Oh and Kevin, your comment had me rolling, good one ;)

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    are you guys retardedor something. how can you sit there and tell me the ad is not racism, unintentional or not…sony knows that its controversial thats the only reason why they did it to help sell..what some of you dumbass people are saying is that there was no other idea they could have come up with than a white girl pushing a black girl in the face to sell a product. who cares what country the ad is in its sony, people from everywhere are going to see it. stop the bullshit and look at the ad for what it is not what you want it to be

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    Here’s how you create that ad without thing abour racism.

    They started with two PSPs, one black, one white. Then they had the white PSP show it’s contempt for the black PSP. But because it’s difficult to show emotion with inanimate objects they subsituted the PSPs for people because humans are great at expressing emotion and easier to understand.

    There’s your ad created with no racist hatred. Think about it.

    Oh and it does matter what country the ad is in. If the ad’s not controversial in the country it’s displayed in then controversy isn’t going to be the driving factor in it’s creation.

    If you’re form another country and you see it and take offense, then tought shit you aren’t it’s target audience.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    Symbolism. Say it with me.

    And there is no need for the name calling gossett.

    The ads might not made it outside of Holland and into the eyes of the NAACP if it were not for a bunch of bloggers. The ads did not run in the US. Have any natives of Holland spoke up about this “outrage?” They don’t have a history of racism toward blacks that we do in the US. That is just one more of those great things about America that makes me feel so proud to live here.

    Cool off and just admire the art that Sony’s wonderful marketing department has done. I think they even topped “Your Girlfriend’s White Bits Here” and “Take A Flying Leap Here,” another great ad campaign that did exactly what they intended to do — grab people’s attention.

    That is the job of an ad after all.

    But I digress. It is called symbolism, plain and simple. white PSP = white woman; black PSP = black woman.

    Sony is not trying to sell black PSPs to black people and white PSPs to white people. They are trying to advertise their new white PSP, and they are doing a really good job of it.

    Another thought — Many ads in foreign countries would not fly here in the US. This is because of many things, one of which is the difference in culture.

  • Mike

    I think their ad’s are almost a natural counter-balance to all the hip-hop, pro-black culture that has engulfed all of media and advertising over the past three years. I can’t remember the last time I saw a commerical without advertisers implicitly stating that “white is uncool, bland, boring–black is cool, hip exciting”. I think people are getting those types of messages forced down their throat on a daily basis on tv and in print.

    Mike
    Chicago, IL

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    jason, kevin you guys are not making any sense, you want me to sit back and enjoy the fact that there is an ad that depicts a white woman pushing a black woman in the face and call it art or, the fact that just because the ad is in holland and not the states that makes it allright, i don’t have to be in holland to like the ad or not, i’m a consumer and i have a choice to be sony products or not and i don’t like the ad i guess the creative minds of sony worked overtime on the ad, maybe when its advertised in the states they can use jason’s dumb idea for an ad,i can’t believe you guys can’t see sony made a mistake with the ad, what does that say about you…..

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    mike what are you talking about don’t you know the no 1 rapper right now is eminem…or that the mvp for basketball is steve nash..sorry man there is no such thing about white being uncool,stop reaching for something

  • Adam

    I find the ads very intriguing but not offensive. And yes, there does seem to be somewhat of a backlash element to it. Personally, I can’t stand 99% of advertising out there. It’s all geared toward the 12-25 y.o. hip hop crowd.

  • Chris

    Read the book “White over Black” by Winthrop D. Jordan and then all of you will understand the deep roots of these images.

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    gosset I propose he following.

    A white man grabs a black guy, ties him to the back of a truck and drags him a mile down the road. Is that racist?

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    jason i propose the following…..a bunch of black guys pull a white man out of a truck and beat the crap out of him,because they are angry at the police,or a gay man..isn’t that some form of racism if not a brutal act ..what is your point.and what does this have to do with the ad..

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    My point is that you jump and call racism with out thinking about what’s happening. What if the man in my example grew up with blacks and loved them, but happened to have sever mental issues and was attacked by the other guy first.

    Everyone in the states seems so quick to call racism that they don’t realize that with out the intent the action is not racist.

    It’s also worth noting that if you stop making race a big issue, it stops becoming one.

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    look jason…i didnt make the ad sony made it, and if you are a corporation that wants to appeal to its customers you might want to be a little more careful about how you advertise..whether you like it or not thats the way society works you screw up then your gonna hear about it.also if there was more to your story you should have told the whole story,no what if this or what if that,just make you point.do you even live in america?

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    No i don’t live in america, but what difference does that make when you’re the one criticizing an ad in Holland.

    As more my story not telling you everything was the whole point. It shows how ones prejudeces can cause something innocent to be seen as something that’s not.

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    If you’d like to hear an American saying the same thing then look here: ctrlaltdel-online.com

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    i knew you didn’t live here..but since you said there are no black and white racism over there, i guess your the perfect person to comment on racism..but anyway you have not admitted that sony made a mistake with the ad and it does not matter if it is in holland or japan, its still a major corp with responsibilities,they still could have come up with a better idea and if you can’t see that then i hope people in holland don’t think like you

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    You just don’t get it do you? Sony didn’t do anything wrong. They released an ad which i’ve yet to see dutch news complain about. If it doesn’t offend the incredible liberial Dutch then they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s not their fault you take offense to it because you aren’t the target audience. You’re an American and the ad is notonly not appearing on American soil, it’s not intended for American Audiences.

    You have to understand that in the global community different nations are offended by different things. You can’t please the entire world that’s why you aim for your target audience and if anyone else sees it, well tough.

    For example you’re not permitted under the Japanese Broadcast code you use the word blind or deaf or deaf-mute. So a commercial in the US to help the blind would be deemed offensieve there.

    It’s all about prespective and you’re taking an American prespective to a non-american ad.

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    i get it,what you are saying is that sony only targeted holland because since there is no racism in the country they won’t take offense to it, but they can’t put the same ad in the states because people might find it offensive, yeah that makes a lot of sense it tells me the holland media and its people don’t have a clue i guess i’m not a target audience even though sony is known all around the globe and whatever they do is going to be noticed i should just be glad they make racist ads in other countries and not mine, i can’t believe how lucky i am

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    I can’t beleive how ignorant you are. You basically just said Holland’s mdia don’t have a clue because they don’t have racial tenstions. You fool they have exactly what you want. Race does not matter. Don’t you want to live in a place where someone can look at that ad and not see a Negro being put down by a Caucassion, but rather a person in white dominating a person in black?

    There was no racist intent with the ad. Sony, which is a Japanese company, is not trying to keep the black man down with that ad. If anything the other ads in the campaign where the Black person is being dominant over the white one should prove that.

    Now i’ve had just about enough of repeating my point so this is the last comment i’m gonna make.

    The only people can make something racist if they choose to attach race to it. The ad itself merely show two people.

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    thanks jason you just proved my point about not having a clue, and you call me ignorant

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    Gossett, if the ad was reversed, the black woman grabbing the white woman, would there still be a problem?

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    there should be a problem, but the sad thing is society will not look at it that way.reversed or not it is still some form of probably unintentional racism

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    Ok, would there be a problem for you if it featured a nude woman, say, just standing there? Would that be offensive?

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    what is offensive about a nude woman?
    …what if it was a young woman pushing the face of an old lady,and the ad said out with the old and in with the knew..if you have a comment then comment don’t keep giving me all these different “problems”.my opinion is the ad is wrong and nobody has said anything to at least make me think a little differently.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    These “problems” are trying to make you think logically about this. A nude woman over in Europe on a billboard wouldn’t matter. Here in the US, it would cause outrage. Hence, we’d never see nudity in an ad here.

    In Holland, they’re not high strung about the color of a person. Here in the US, we are. That’s why the ad is staying over there. If the ad is as offensive as you seem to think it is, why have we heard no outrage from the the country it’s featured?

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    like i said before..the ad being in holland does not make it right..what is so logical about a white woman pushing a black woman in the face..sony is a well known corp..are you saying they couldn’t have been a little more sensitive about there ad? who cares what the people in holland think,just because they don’t care does not mean we can’t…its a controversal ad because sony wants it to be, other ideas could have been used,sony knew it would get the attention of the US..of course this ad would never fly over here that is why it’s there.how about if japan makes an adv about the germans and the jewish people.if they don’t like it too bad the ad is in japan so they probably aren’t to high strung about it,but thats ok..my point is you can have a kkk sign in the middle of the desert somewhere, that does not make it right it just makes a racist sign in the middle of the desert,…stop letting sony off the hook for there mistake

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    The ad being in Holland has EVERYTHING to do with it. They’re not ignorant enough to see everything in colors. We here in the US can’t seem to move away from it. It’s not in bad taste because it was never meant for the audience here in the states.

    The sign is only racist because YOU want it to be. You don’t have to see it as a black woman or a white woman. You’re choosing to because our culture says so. Holland doesn’t care because they’re immune to this.

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    i know the ad was not meant for the audiene in the states,but don’t you think an ad like that would be noticed here? i don’t want the sign to be racist and i’m not conditioned to see everything in a white vs black just because i live in the states.what is the sign telling me that a white psp is coming, ok fine, but does that mean the way they advertised it could’ve been a little more sensitive, sure, none of you guys want to see that all you want to see is it has nothing to do with the people in the ad or the fact thats its in holland where i guess its the only place in the world where their is no racism.i never said it was done on purpose i’m just saying the ad is wrong no matter where it was advertised.and you don’t have to be ignorant to see something from a different perspective you have your opinon and i have mine

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    Just for update purposes until I can get a piece up, Sony has pulled the ads due to American protests. Gamepolitics has the story and I’m too lazy to link right now.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    From Sony:

    Whilst the images used in the campaign were intended solely to highlight the contrast between the different colors available for the PSP, we recognize that the subject matter of one specific image may have caused concern in some countries not directly affected by the advertising. As a result, we have now withdrawn the campaign.

    (I emphasised the part that should have stuck out while reading that)

    Leland Yee did not need one more video game-related topic to grand stand on. And who knows, the NAACP and Sojourn to the Past might never have known of this “problem” in the Netherlands if it were not for a couple sites in the blogosphere. Good job, give yourself a pat on the back.

    Only one complaint about the ad in the Netherlands. ORLY?

    Sony has no balls.

    But still, I must congratulate them on one hell of an ad campaign for their new White PSP. You could not have asked for more publicity. Now when will you be releasing them here?

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    sony has no balls? how about sony had no brains..if you can’t see how this ad could have been taken the wrong way then you need to look in the mirror at yourself,because to me that is very narrow minded..white psp, black psp,you are going to get a psp because you want one,the change of color is not going to mean a whole lot anyway..so yeah i will give myself a pat on the back,because i think they did the right thing.

  • http://www.njiska.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    Yeah that was pretty much my though Ken. No balls for Sony and no brains for the people protesting it.

  • http://gossett1 gossett

    sorry for having my own opinion,but like i said narrow minded people

  • kingius

    Gossett you are right and Sony is wrong. This is proven by the retraction of the advert.

    Jason and Matt were also wrong. Racism exists and PR campaigns in any country should not flirt with these themes. Jason and Matt can come up with as many examples as they want to try and deflect the issue and defend Sony (while ignoring youre own points, typical of people who are close minded and I suspect in this case, possibly have shares in Sony and therefore will defend it to the metaphorical death).

    Its time for PR agencies to grow up and take responsibility for their actions. Creating a storm of controversy on racist themes is potentially very dangerous. This makes Sony look like a greedy corporation.

    Oh and one final thing. Holland is not immune to racism. No country is, there are racists in every country in the world.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    How exactly are we ignoring our own points?

    And why is the ad racist, i.e., discriminatory or saying that white people are better than blacks? I don’t see how it falls into either of those defnitions.

  • kingius

    You were ignoring Gossett’s points.

    The ad is racist because it is symbolic of white supremist ideology.

    The problem is that you dont see this. You should do some research into racism to understand the symbolism being used here and the underlying message.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    There’s nothing about white supremecy here, and I never ignored Gossetts points. The ad put people as stand ins for the colors of the console, and other ads showed the black woman dominate. The “underlying message” is that that the new PSP is coming out. You’re choosing to see something outside of what the ad intended.

  • kingius

    How do you know what the ad intended? How do you know that the creators of the ad are not racists and fully aware of the overt symbolism being used here?

    You dont, you have only your interpretation to go on, so maybe you should reconsider your position …. just like Sony has.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    Um, because it’s an ad for the PSP and its new color. That’s why it’s the only interpetation needed. Whether or not the creators had their own ideas is irrelavent. What matters is what the ad is selling.

    Sony ridiculously reconsidered their position after an American politican and American group complained… about an ad in Holland.

  • kingius

    Matt I will leave this here.I disagree with you and so does Sony, they have reveresed their position, leaving you with little to cling to. But in the end, life is more about right and wrong. I have respect for you and your opinion – you are entitled to it. We are all free.