Brand: Sony Playstation Portable
Link: Click Here
Target: Gamers and everyone else
Instead of seeing the Playstation Portable through most of the spot, we instead see the gamers playing it.
Showing the gamers instead of the game itself is novel and it gives a strong emotional link to the total absorption that the PSP gamers feel when they are playing. Fortunately, the spot starts with the Playstation brand (just a flash), so we are less likely to wonder what we are looking at for the first ten seconds. All the visuals are top-notch and the spot makes the unit look appealing. The soundtrack also lends urgency to the visuals, and keeps us moving throught the spot.
From a brand strategy perspective, Sony makes two questionable choices in this spot.
The first is the choice of user. The spot has a hip, young, urban-culture feel to it. It is anti-establishment. Now in classic branding, you want to show the ‘brand lover’ – the core of all of the users of your brand. The folks portrayed in this spot are certainly brand lovers. But you also want the users to be aspirational for the rest of your target audience. And here’s where I’m not sure that the choice of users in the spot is a good one. The gaming audience is a lot older than people think (I believe the average age is pushing 30). And it is not particularly anti-establishment.
I suspect that Sony was looking at the demographics of portable gamers when targeting the spot. Right now, portable gamers are younger – the skateboarder crowd. But this is mostly due to the platform that dominates at the moment (Gameboy Advance) which reflects Nintendo’s demographics which are a lot younger than the industry as a whole. Look at the cost of the PSP, however and some of the earliest games (sports games feature prominently) and you’ll realize that a lot of the folks who will be carrying a PSP around by next year will be wearing ties and hiding it in their briefcases. There is ONE young guy in a suit playing the game on an elevator, but the overwhelming user imagery is of young and edgy people. This imagery may not help SONY if one of the important early target groups looks at the commercial and can’t identify – even aspirationally – with the kids on the spot. Perhaps this might have been a chance for SONY to micromarket and produce different spots with different user imagery for different demographics and ad mediums.
There is a second problem with the way Sony portrays the user. As marketers we are much less likely than the general population to play video games. So we need to work doubly hard to understand the mind of the gamer. Unlike the image we may have of the gamer as a social outcast, the opposite is true. Most gamers play with others and gaming is a social activity for the majority of gamers. The real genius of the Playstation Portable is the wireless networking ability (similar to N-Gage, but likely to be on a much wider scale), allowing PSP gamers to connect with both friends and strangers, which may make the PSP the first truly new singles accessory of the 21st century.
As brilliant as the execution of this TV spot is, looking from the perspective of the video game out to the user tends to isolate the gamer. In fact, one of the brief shots is of a girl trying to get her guy’s attention while he is riveted to the game. The spot completely misses the connecting power of the PSP and that is a mistake.
Lastly, I’m not sure about the few brief glimpses of other functionality for the PSP. It’s true that you can play movies (in Sony’s proprietary format) and audio, but those should be follow-on pitches to make to those who’ve already bought the system. Given the cost of the movies (and the fact that there’s no way to watch DVDs you already own on it) and the trickiness of the MP3 player, this is not going to be a big draw for those who don’t already own the system.
Branding Bottom Line -
A brilliantly executed spot, but perhaps executed against the wrong strategy.