Girl in the Machine
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Sony, Hire New Staff

What exactly are you selling?

I would be pretty surprised if you hadn’t heard of Sony’s latest advertisement for the PS3. I first saw it a little while back on, but it’s also on other sites like Joystiq if you care to check out the NSFW disclosures of the whole image.

The advertisement was featured in an Austrian Playboy magazine and quickly spread across the net. In it, a mostly-nude young man is reclining in the dark, and his penis has been replaced with a thumb. The forgettable, small words “Playstation 3” are shoved into the lower left-hand corner of the page.

It makes me wonder what Sony is getting at. Their advertising company made some pretty interesting choices with this one:

1. The Thumb-Penis: Without a doubt, I can see that thumbs are relevant to gaming. I suppose it’s not revolutionary for advertisers to tie products to sex, but this is off-putting. It’s not exactly desirable. I’m curious what kind of image they might have created if they decided to apply the same sort of theme to a woman. That leads to:

2. The Niche: I’m sure there are lots of guys who subscribe to Playboy and play video games. I’m just surprised that Sony chose to use a nude male in an advertisement they placed in a pornographic publication for straight men.

I don’t think the subject stopped any straight guys from looking him over (either in curiosity or jealousy), but with the rather subtle photo editing that went on here, it’s hard to tell it’s a thumb instead of a penis. To be honest, I probably would’ve just thought he had a weird shape if I hadn’t read the accompanying article.

3. The Logo: The fact that this is an advertisement for the PS3 is pretty easy to miss—the words “Playstation 3” can’t be more than a size twelve font. Their placement underneath the guy also makes lookin' at his phalange pretty much unavoidable. The way the page is laid out, your eye naturally flows from the top to the bottom of the page, but the creepiness factor is definitely distracting. It leaves me with a bit of confusion about the product. What exactly am I being sold?

4. The Message: It doesn’t give me any positive feelings about the product. Think about other ads you’ve seen: “Wild-Duck Burgers will make you and your family deliriously happy as you enjoy a meal together without fighting for the first time in months,” or “With these shoes, you can play basketball like a star, run the 5K with ease, or crush mountains with your incredible sense of style.” In this ad, there doesn’t seem to be any psychological benefits attached to the system. If thumb-penis is what having a PS3 means, I’m pretty sure I can do without. I’d rather see the exciting times I’ll have playing all the sweet new games on the system!

Sony’s done some pretty strange things in its campaign to sell the PS3 (remember the baby commercial?), and it makes me wonder what horrors they’ve yet to unleash. I suppose the ad has done it’s job in a way, though. Folks everywhere are talking about the PS3. The problem is that I’m not sure Sony can distinguish between good and bad publicity.

At it’s very best, this ad could be an attempt to satirize sexualized video game advertisements that attach controllers to women or cover up their lady-parts with screen captures from games ("With graphics like these, you won't notice anything else!"). At it's worst, it's an exploitation of the male form. More than likely, however, it was the product of some loopy counselors who have no concept of how to make a relevant advertisement.

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 Posted by Calabar
 11:30 AM + Link to this post

Girl in the Machine

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