LIKE: The PlayStation Adverts

How Sony conquered worlds with provocative and powerful messages that defined an era

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"Land on your own moon"

Before the so-called "PlayStation arrogance" became a toxic PR problem for Sony, there was a time when the company's swagger and self-importance was celebrated.

Having rocked the industry with the early success of the PS1, coupled with the strong response to its advertising campaigns, PlayStation entered a sort of Sgt Pepper's phase. It began to sign off adverts that were extraordinarily over-thought and barely promoted anything.

Chris Cunningham, the man behind cult music videos for various Björk and Aphex Twin tracks, was enlisted by PlayStation in 1999 to create a daring new TV spot. The result, called Mental Wealth, depicted a Scottish woman with an alien head discussing matters of existentialism.

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"PlayStation became a very aspirational brand," says Wilson. "If you understood the symbols you were cool, and if you didn't you weren't."

Big names were hired for bold ideas. In 2000, Sony launched the PS2 across Europe with an advertisement that is looked back on as the apex moment of PlayStation's preposterousness.

Shown across TV and cinema screens, the PS2 launch trailer was shot in two days in LA and directed by David Lynch, a visual artist famous for his surrealist ideas. The campaign was brought together after eighteen months of ad agency research, with five major ideas tested for target audiences.
The final result was called The Third Place, but remembered for many things other than its name:

"There was a lot of out-there ideas for the launch of the PS2. I think the Third Place adverts were essentially the embodiment of all of them," says Wilson.

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"They were just super-cool. Real landmark stuff for the games business. These types of adverts were more about the experience than the product. It was about how you felt about PlayStation," he adds.

"I think those days are in the past."

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