Brand: Playstation Portable – PSP (Sony)
Link: Click Here (link is to Adland Ad-Rag, which charges a small fee for viewing)
Target: Game nuts
This spot is limited-motion animation in black and white. A squirrel whistles and throws a nut at a tree. He yells, “Come out and play!” A second squirrel pops his head out. “Ah can’t! I’m playin’ NUT!” the second squirrel replies. “But there’s portable nut!” says the first squirrel, raising an acorn above his head. “WHAAATTT?” the squirrel in the tree yells. “Yeah, it’s a nut you can play with outside,” the first squirrel exclaims. The spot shifts to a line-drawn image of the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) and a voiceover says “PSP. It’s like a nut you can play with outside.”
This advertising blog reviewed the launch campaign for the Playstation Portable in May, 2005 (click here to read the review.) While the campaign was creative and well-executed (called ‘Point of view’ it showed the reactions of players to PSP from the point of view of the PSP), we felt it failed for one simple reason. The Point of View campaign showed games being pulled away from their loved ones by the game. Gaming in this campaign was an isolating experience.
Along the way to promoting the same product benefit (portability), TWBA/Chiat/Day has come up with a completely unique campaign that doesn’t make the same mistake – and this one is a winner. “Nut” is a hyperactive, visually exhilarating execution in the style of anime that has been drained of all color. The effect is startling and even with the sound off or in TiVo fast-forward mode this spot is hard to miss.
Sony and Chiat use this focused attention to deliver a simple and compelling message – PSP is playstation but portable. The visual effects and the unique voices in the spot help make the message memorable.
This is all obvious from watching the execution. What you may not have noticed is how Sony and TWBA/Chiat/Day have transformed the solitary game experience in the first PSP campaign into a group activity. It is no accident that the ‘portable nut’ squirrel is outside and is trying to get his friend outside. The outdoors here connotes both freedom (portability) and sociability. The call to action (literally a call in this case) is for joining – come play a game with me. This again reinforces the social aspect of the device.
This underlines one of the key insights into gaming for those of us who may not be console gamers – it is not a solitary activity. Most gamers spend long stretches playing games but they do it with friends. It is social activity. The PSP has excellent wireless connectivity which was ignored in the launch campaign. This time Sony has gotten it right by remembering that its core gaming audience are joiners, not loners.
What Doesn’t Work
Dramatically and artistically it makes sense that the connection between “NUT” and PSP be drawn only in the last five seconds of the spot. Sony can get away with this because it is the only relevant portable gaming console at the moment. However the lack of branding for most of the spot is a controlled risk.
This spot may become iconic, but expect to see copycats. If b&w, limited animation spots start to proliferate, Sony will need to move in a new direction.
Branding Bottom Line
Sony shows us the NUT and we want it.