Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Word on Bad Advertising...

Today, we're going to be talking about advertisements. More specifically, we're going to be watching some advertisements. Even more specifically, we'll be watching some ads from those old jokers at the Sony corporation. Specifying even further, we'll be watching commercials for a $600 video game system. The Sony Playstation 3 has been well-known for it's off-kilter commercials. Personally (and I thought I'd never say this about anything related to Sony), I love them.

...That's not a good sign.

In case you've forgotten (or never saw) the American commercials, here they are, beginning with the most (in)famous, the "PS3 Baby" Commercial:

Yes, according to this commercial, the Playstation 3 levitates and possesses baby dolls. I may have actually paid $600 for something that did that. Apparently, though, that commercial really backfired for Sony (I can't imagine why), and now there is apparently a joke in their marketing department that if someone screws up, the "PS3 Baby" will haunt them in their dreams.

Not being satisfied with one crazy commercial, Sony then released a second.

So...so far the PS3 possesses dolls and summons crows from chicken eggs. These weren't really helping Sony's "evil" image, wouldn't you say.

One of the most common complaints about the American PS3 commercials is that they didn't really say much about the product itself. The third commercial was meant to fix that.

Get it? It's a "smarter processor," so it can solve Rubik's cubes...with its mind!!! This was not the most widely-known commercial (the baby earns that honor), but it is considered the most effective of the American commercials. I think my favorite response to this commercial was to the effect of "I hope stores don't stock the PS3 by the Rubik's cubes. It'll be like a warzone."

Now, you may think that the American commercials may be bad (in that they say very little about the console itself, but it is ironically the most informative of the major campaigns. For example, look at this Japanese commercial:

(The PS3, incidentally, was released in Japan on November 11th, or 11/11.) Now, when I look at a fork, I see a fork. When I'm a character in a commercial and I look at a fork, I still see a fork. Not this lady. When she looks at a fork, she sees a release date. Same with their other commercials. Example? A kid sees four tall, vertical smokestacks, except he doesn't. He sees a release date too.

(I will admit, I always laugh at the end, when it just sounds like the announcer is say "Jujujujujuji.")

Now, this is bad, but it's still remotely related to the product. That's more than the European commercials can say. No, those commercials (dubbed the "This is Living" campaign) don't even mention the PS3, Sony, or anything related to anything! They're...they're...here, watch this one:

Okay...okay. So, we have a guy in a bathtub talking about how we're all wasting our lives (ironic for a video game commercial). He then tells us he's going to buy some chocolate, points a gun at us, and laughs. I...I may be alone in my analysis, but that just makes my brow furrow. What? I mean...what?

Now, another thing. That commercial is over 2 minutes long. Apparently, long commercials are the thing to do in Europe. How do I know? Here's another one! This is the full, uncut quintessential "This is Living" commercial. It gives a little background on Mr. Tub there, as well as a bunch of other residents of this hotel.

Be warned, this commercial is not for the faint of heart; it contains full rear nudity and nippleless breasts, a guy sticking his hand down his briefs, apparent drug use (they can apparently get away with a lot on European TV) and a whole lot of "What the hell?!" moments.

I find it fun, once every minute, to remind myself that this is a Sony ad for a video game console. Try doing that. Whenever you do, you'll probably just shake your head in disbelief.

See? The only time you know it's a PS3 ad is for a full six seconds at the end. I...I really don't know how to describe the absurdity of this. If they sent this in as some short film to Cannes, maybe they'd get an honorable mention, but this is an advertisement. An advertisement! You're supposed to convince people to buy a product, and all I'm seeing is that drugs and exploding suitcases filled with money is the definition of "living" to some Caribbean hotel owner.

In my business class, we learned that there are three different things you want to do in advertising:
1. Inform
2. Persuade
3. Remind

Let's look at how these commercials fare in those criteria:
1. Inform - No. Just...no. If you can find any real information about the product in anything you've seen so far, please, tell me. I know a lot about all the current systems, and I can tell you that I learned nothing of the PS3 from those ads.
2. Persuade - Well, do you want to buy a PS3 right now? Well, I for one am not, especially after what that military dude said about wasting your life. (If the American commercials showed true-to-life abilities of the console, I might have reconsidered this point.)
3. Remind - This is probably what these commercials do best. "Hey, we're Sony. Remember that." They assume that everyone already knows who they are and what they're product is/does, so they are simply putting up ads to remind you that they're there.

So yeah, one out of three. That usually doesn't pass muster in a marketing view.

Now, for kicks, let's look at the first Nintendo Wii commercial that was made for American TV:

Okay, let's look at the three points again:
1. Inform - The commercials show a pretty good demonstration (albeit grossly exaggerated) of what the play-style is like, as well as what some of the games look like.
2. Persuade - Well, in the commercial, the people playing the games are smiling, or at least appear to be enjoying themselves.
3. Remind - The thing about the Nintendo Wii is this: it'll never, ever let you forget that you're playing the Nintendo Wii. In their games, menu, and menu loading screens, you'll see the word "Wii" everywhere. Similar is true for their commercials. With that little music at the beginning, those two cute-but-creepy Japanese dudes, and instance of the word "Wii", you'll never forget that this is a Nintendo commercial the next time you see it.

Right now, the Wii is outselling the PS3 worldwide by a factor of more than 2:1. Now, there are of course other factors involved (price, game exclusivity, etc.), but I can't help but think that advertising played some role in the whole thing.

So remember, unless you're advertising on the Superbowl (in which case product irrelevance is generally well-accepted), don't follow Sony's example.

...And don't put possessed baby dolls in them. That's just creepy.


Anonymous said...

I'm not one for baby dolls, but i thought the possessed baby doll was kinda cute. In a deranged sort of way...>_>

Anonymous said...

What the hell was that.
I must admit, I do not understand the European psyche...not even close, and I am so grateful I do not live here. I was never more uncomfortable than when passing through Amsterdam, and I never even left the airport. Flying with a planeful, no, no, no...next time I am routing through London. (I do not consider Brits Europen.) I realize this is a gross generalization and I am sure to catch some slack (and apologies to my friend Patrik, though once again I can argue Eastern Europe). I much preferred the American versions...if for no other reason than they certainly held you in rapt attention and were mercifully short. The eggs, I did not understand. The baby, albeit creepy, was kind of cool, and you know how I feel about talking dolls. The rubitz cube, nice, and I want my room painted that way. Imagine the decorating possibilities. By the way, where were these commercials? I never saw a one.

Anonymous said...

I see these commercials (the american ones) all the time on our satellite channels. I always ignore them, compared to the PS2 commercials of old (playstation 9?) they seem to fall short.
I can't help but wonder if you were somehow coerced into advertising for sony on this blog...

Anonymous said...

Oi vegh and sweet Jesus...I haven't been able to read your blogs for says and I must say, the baby was a but too much. I've always known there was something off about Europeans - if this is a natural by-product of socialism, I will gladly denounce any harshness I had towards capitalism in the past.

In any case, I hate almost all commercials, but these take the cake (although I'll never look at eggs the same way again.)

Happy Jujujujujuji to you!

-Comrade Chavez