Sony Begins Rollout of $150 Million Push for PSP 3

But an Effective Ad Effort Could Mean Limited Console Supply Will Sell Out Even Faster

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- In stark white room, a baby cries as it stares at a black box across the room. Then the baby, obviously a doll, laughs. Tears roll out of its eyes and roll back up again. And the black box -- a Sony PlayStation 3 video-game console -- floats in the air.
Sony's creepy baby
Sony's creepy baby

The ad, created by Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Los Angeles, been described as "freaky awesome," "weird," "sweet" and "awful" by a variety of commenters on sites including YouTube, Gizmodo, Kotaku and I4U.

Baby was just a start
The "Baby," which ran once during Game 4 of the World Series, is just the beginning of an estimated $150 million campaign for PlayStation 3's debut. Sony plans a series of white-room ads (and more "Baby" airings) starring the PS3 box and a variety of "objects acting in a surreal manner," a spokeswoman for Sony Consumer Entertainment America said.

The "Baby" ad, for instance, is aimed at showcasing the PS3's advanced and powerful graphics that it can move the inanimate baby to tears, laughter, coos of wonder, and even movement.

The theme (and tagline), which morphed from "Play Beyond" to "Play B3yond," is meant to go beyond traditional gaming with advanced features such as high-definition play and beyond the traditional gaming audience of the 18- to 44-year-old "core" male gamers.

In addition to more TV spots, the campaign also includes outdoor, online and viral components. A giant PS3 experience truck debuted at the Voodoo festival in New Orleans last week and will motor around the country to a variety of events.

Sony's biggest problem
Still, advertising -- creepy or otherwise -- is not Sony's biggest problem with the PS3's launch Nov. 17. Because of an in-store shortage of machines due to manufacturing delays, the console will almost assuredly sell out quickly. And while Sony executives, including Chairman-CEO Howard Stringer, have dismissed the shortage problem as part of the cycle, others wonder if consumers will wait, possibly months, for a PS3 when there are two other next-generation console options.

The Nintendo Wii arrives two days after the PS3 and has already received kudos and positive reviews; its family-oriented marketing plans will be announced this week. Microsoft has already begun a renewed effort for the second season of its Xbox 360 gaming platform, trying to push out to a broader demographic as well.
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