Sony rolls cinematic PS2 push

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Sony Computer Entertainment America this week launches a 60-second cinema trailer for its PlayStation 2 video-game console. The trailer, which will run in 875 theaters and on more than 5,000 screens, is part of a $250 million North American advertising and marketing blitz for PlayStation hardware and software.

Created by Omnicom Group's TBWA Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., Sony's agency, the trailer uses the tagline "Live in Your World. Play in Ours," a tag Sony used previously but not as a major campaign premise (AA, May 20).

The first of at least four TV spots leveraging the look and feel of the trailer will break in mid- to late September promoting the PlayStation 2 brand to mass audiences. No footage from, or mention of, Sony's flagship game titles is included.

`signs'

The trailer, called "Signs," was shot in Toronto and shows a young man walking the streets of a city where he encounters various signs or clues foreshadowing the events that play out; they include a vicious barking dog and a child creating a sidewalk chalk drawing of a little girl clutching a red balloon. Mannequins appear in a store window, arms outstretched, and point enigmatically to something that's about to happen.

"The lead character is almost like he's in the midst of his own role-playing game. He needs to follow clues to save the heroine," said Andrew House, Sony's exec VP-marketing. "There is a sense that he's being drawn into our world."

Mr. House believes the plot connects well on an emotional level to the PlayStation audience. "We know that our audience likes to find clues and likes to decode things. ... We were essentially trying to tap into a range of emotions that we think we deliver in the games-intrigue, foreboding, excitement, panic, relief and achievement at the end," Mr. House added. The trailer culminates with the lead character eyeing a cement gargoyle that's about to crash on a little girl holding a red balloon. He whisks her out of the street as the chunk falls.

Print ads will appear in gaming publications only for software titles. Radio and online advertising are part of the mix, as are celebrity-packed events, mobile marketing tours, concert sponsorships and retail programs.

Sony's online gaming solution, a $39.99 network adaptor used with a consumer's own Internet service provider, will be supported with a print campaign in fall issues of gaming, technology and selected lifestyle magazines; online ads are also part of the push. The online gaming aspect of PS2 will be flagged in a forthcoming TV spot showing Sony's "SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals" title.

ps2 expected to be down

Sony's PS2 is projected to have 50% of the console market by 2003, down from 70% earlier this year, while Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox is expected to grow its share from 16% to 22% and Nintendo's GameCube will shoot from 14% to 28%, according to NPDFunworld estimates. Sony Computer spent $30.2 million in measured media in the U.S. from January-May, and $84 million in 2001, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

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