Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Sony Pulls Controversial PSP Ad, Issues Apology 182

Posted by Zonk
from the needs-a-new-ad-agency dept.
xenongamer writes "Sony has finally stepped up and pulled the racially controversial PSP ads out of the Netherlands. 'We... recognize that people have a wide variety of perceptions about such imagery and we wish to apologize to those who perceived the advert differently to that intended. In future, we will apply greater sensitivity in our selection of campaign imagery, and will take due account of the increasingly global reach of such local adverts, and their potential impact in other countries,' said Sony in a statement."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sony Pulls Controversial PSP Ad, Issues Apology

Comments Filter:
  • Stepped up? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Knara (9377) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:35PM (#15706583)
    They released ads in one country, and people with guilty social consciences complained in a totally different country. People need to get a grip, not every country in the world is socially obsessed with black vs. white race relations.
    • Yeah, seriously. I wish that over here in the US we wouldn't get so uppity about what's going on internally in another country. It's not like it's really our business or anything. Not all cultures should be the same as ours, and I'd hope that they aren't. Diversity is important.
      • Re:Stepped up? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Burlap (615181)
        your President seems to differ from that opinion
        • "Our" president not only differs with most of the world, but most of America as well. I didn't vote for him, but more importantly, millions of Americans voted for him simply because he seemed "like a good guy you could sit and have a beer with," not because they agreed with him. Bush doesn't represent the majority, or even a plurality of people's opinions in this country (thank god), and he definitely represents VERY few of the view of American Slashdotters.
          • I disagree. While not everyone agrees with everything Bush has said or done, The majority of people agree with at least part of it. We cannot make a blanket statment that people voted for bush because he seemed more palitable then his oponants. Thats the same thing everyone said about clinton when the majority of people you talked to wouldn't admit to voting for him.

            In every presidency, you will find that people claim they don't support this or that more because the implementation has evolved into more nege
    • Re:Stepped up? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kesch (943326)
      Step 1: Release ads in Amsterdam.
      Step 2: Manage to get huge American ad attention by triggering guilty social conscience
      Step 3: When interest in ad begins to dwindle, drum up more publicity and goodwill by announcing withdrawl
      Step 4: ????
      Step 5: Profit!

      Honestly, for the price of a few billboards Sony is getting a lot of coverage for the new white PSP.
      • Good point. Still good press for Sony's product

        Still bothers me, though.

        • What about the other two images [joystiq.com]? Do they bother you as well? If not, you're a reverse racist.
          • Re:Stepped up? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by acidrain69 (632468)
            There is no such thing as "reverse" racism. You're either racist or you're not.
          • reverse racistmight not be the best term here. It implies the oposite of being a racist were the intent is definatly seems to mean the type of racial discimination. (black on whote vs white on black discrimination and so on)

            I guess the point I'm trying to make is that a reverse racist is still a racist and not a person who isn't a racist. I'm sure you already knew that but others reading might not know.
        • Re:Stepped up? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by F_Scentura (250214) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:08PM (#15706871)
          "Still bothers me, though."

          The world must be a frightening and confusing place.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Not only was the social outcry from other countries, virtually every article and discussion that decried the campaign focused on the white over black advertisement.

      As was stated by others in the earlier discussion, would there have been a huge outcry if there existed only one advertisement, and it was black over white?

      My opinion? I seriously, seriously doubt it.
      • "As was stated by others in the earlier discussion, would there have been a huge outcry if there existed only one advertisement, and it was black over white?

        My opinion? I seriously, seriously doubt it.

        It would if whites had been slaves to blacks... but that's not what happened.
    • The one race to rule them all! ;)
    • Re:Stepped up? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dark Paladin (116525) <jhummel@johnhumm ... t minus caffeine> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:48PM (#15706699) Homepage
      Of course not. Which is why when I was in Saudi I was told that Egyptians always steal, and Jews are out to kill Muslims.

      And when I was in Kansas, I was told that the fact my sister-in-law had once dated a "nigger" was reason to be mad at her.

      The fact is that racism, religiousism, whateverism is still alive and well in the world today - and it is *exactly* by pointing it out that you extinguish it. I hear people complain about "political correctness", and how its destroying things.

      Of course, the counter argument, as Jon Stewart once pointed out, is that Thomas Jefferson used to fuck his slaves.

      So every time you see someone do something that vaguely smacks of racism, you have to squash it, and squash it so hard so that the people who still believe in that crap are reminded that the rest of the world doesn't agree with them. When Congress doesn't want to renew the Civil Rights Voting act because they feel that the areas it targets aren't racist anymore, you get right in those people's faces and tell them "Oh yes it is", and then you show where voters are intimidated or have their names removed from voting lists by using criminal lists from other states.

      Sony fucked up, and I don't care what country they do it in: they screwed the pooch big time. There were plenty of ways to show that the white PSP was coming - but to show a white woman subjigating a black woman

      Oh, and for the "well, they have an ad showing a black woman beating up on a white one", you go through centuries of slavery, then more decades of racism, then continued glares from people who think that you're a thief just because you're black, or have problems registering to vote or get ticketed for "driving while black" and continued segregation of the schools, *then* tell me if you don't mind the black woman beating up the white one. That one was just as bad in my opinion, and just because you don't find it offensive doesn't mean that it wasn't.
      • you go through centuries of slavery, then more decades of racism
        Black people are immortal now?
      • Re:Stepped up? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ReverendLoki (663861) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:02PM (#15706820)
        This is stupid. What if the campaign were recreated, using just two white women, one wearing white and the other wearing black? What if it were two white men? How about two black men? How about two persian women? How about two ______ _______? Oh, but the fact that they are of different races means it's insensitive. You wouldn't have a problem with the ad if it were two persons of the same race and gender.

        This hypersensitivity is actually serving to perpetuate racist views. It is forcing people to consider race as an issue when people really shouldn't have to. Please don't feed me a line about the "years of oppression". What if the white woman was Jewish? In that particular ad campaign (of which people only ever seem to show one image of, conveniently leaving out another where the roles are reversed), who's opressing who?

        Personally, I'm disappointed in Sony for their retraction. Go ahead and say your sorry people have misinterpreted the intent of the campaign, that's fine. Even pulling the campaign itself s understandable.. apparently, people are too stupid for this ad campaign to work. But to come out and "admit" they were wrong? That's just caving into peer pressure there.
        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:32PM (#15707617) Homepage
          Oh, but the fact that they are of different races means it's insensitive. You wouldn't have a problem with the ad if it were two persons of the same race and gender.

          Um, yes, obviously. Or two races who had never had any kind of conflict, say Hawaiians and Arabs. That's called "context" and it's important. These ads don't exist in a vacuum. They exist in our world in which one race dominating, slaying, and enslaving another has been one of the continual themes of history. The ad itself pairs two races who have had such a history even up to today. That's significant. That can't be ignored.

          This hypersensitivity is actually serving to perpetuate racist views. It is forcing people to consider race as an issue when people really shouldn't have to.

          Race is an issue in many places in the world, and pretending otherwise is not going to make it go away. Racism and racial tensions exist in many parts of the world, and black vs white racial tension and racism exist here in the United States. Anyone who says it isn't is in denial or living somewhere where they don't have to deal with it.

          Race is an issue in these ads. This is just undeniable. Racial tension is also an issue. Sony can talk about "color" in the abstract sense of their PSPs as much as they want. These women aren't just white and black, they're European and African. Going at each other. Racial tension? Yes.

          But is it racism? I'd certainly say not. If you look at the whole series, it actually looks very passionate. They may be aggressive and combative, but they practically end up on top of each other. As someone else pointed out, the ad is basically about sex. Aggressive sex, but that doesn't make it hateful. Do you think interracial lovers sometimes feed off the racial tension between them? Certainly. In that sense the series is almost cathartic. The artist was using the implied tension towards their goal.

          So is hypersensitivity the problem here? Yeah, probably. It's a bit much to call the ads 'racist', though with the "White is coming" tagline and news articles only showing the white-gripping-black billboard, I can see how people would get the wrong impression. Remember though that like most kinds of hypesensitivity this arose from "over-stimulation" from actual racism and racial violence.

          Is hypersensitivity perpetuating racism? Well, somewhat perhaps. I had an aquaintence once get mad at me for making reference to the fact that she's black. That act of sensitivity certainly made me more self-conscious of race, but we got along fine after that. I've had another aquantence tell me that he hated having black people around and thought we should deport them back to Africa. Dropped him like a bad habit, of course, but what about when he has kids? My point is -- to whatever extent hypersensitivity perpetuates racism, actual racism perpetuates racism much, much more.

          So I suppose I'm going to have to come out in the middle on this issue. No, they aren't racist and the reactions were overblown. Yes, race is an issue in the ads and pretending otherwise is just avoidance or ignorance or whatever. In any event I don't feel sorry for Sony because appology or no they're getting exactly what they wanted from the ad.

          • That's called "context" and it's important. These ads don't exist in a vacuum. They exist in our world in which one race dominating, slaying, and enslaving another has been one of the continual themes of history. The ad itself pairs two races who have had such a history even up to today. That's significant. That can't be ignored.

            They also existed in the Netherlands, not the US. We had to drag it out of it's original context and consider it in our own, a context for which it was never intended. Our rea

            • They also existed in the Netherlands, not the US. We had to drag it out of it's original context and consider it in our own, a context for which it was never intended. Our reaction and subsequent demands to pull these ads makes less sense than the demands of some Muslims that a Danish newspaper should be punished for printing those Mohammed cartoons.

              That's a good point. I honestly don't know nearly enough about the Netherlands to understand how the race issue would be viewed there, but clearly different en
              • Let's try a slightly different format for this reply...

                That's a good point. I honestly don't know nearly enough about the Netherlands to understand how the race issue would be viewed there, but clearly different enough that it isn't the hot-button issue it is here.

                From what I understand, its much less of an issue there. Must have something to do with the lack of "years of slavery" thing. I did a quick search, and couldn't find an instance of the locals complaining about the ad... just us.

                I was refe

        • What if the white woman was Jewish?
          There was an incident in the UK recently where the Mayor of London accused a journalist of being like a Nazi. There almost certainly would have been no scandal if it hadn't been for the fact that the journalist was Jewish. However, he was and as a result of the uproar that followed, the Mayor was suspended from office for 4 weeks.
      • So every time you see someone do something that vaguely smacks of racism, you have to squash it, and squash it so hard so that the people who still believe in that crap are reminded that the rest of the world doesn't agree with them. When Congress doesn't want to renew the Civil Rights Voting act because they feel that the areas it targets aren't racist anymore, you get right in those people's faces and tell them "Oh yes it is", and then you show where voters are intimidated or have their names removed from
      • [sarcasim]Oh, you're absolutely correct! The only way we are ever going to get those selfish bigots to stop being racist is to subject them to racism and see how they like it! [/sarcasim]

        Sure, it's a dumb ad idea. But jumping on the company for "racist" imagery doesn't help stop racism. Nothing gets fixed by screaming "Racism, Racism" every time somebody gets offended by the recitation of "Eenie, meenie, miney, mo..." (Guess which word used to be in the place of tiger. That's right, 3 year olds can be raci
      • You forgot to explain how the ad in question is racist.
      • You know, your attitude is the same attitude showcased in "Fahrenheit 451", where anything that's the least bit upsetting to anyone MUST be "squashed". It's also the same kind of attitude that led thousands to riot over a dozen images of a prophet and led many others to protest over a crucifix in a jar of urine. I consider that attitude almost as bad as the attitude that one person is "better" than another person based upon their skin color.

        Sure, the PSP ads are provocative. That's why they're so effecti
    • How do you know, that this didn't affect the blacks in Holland ?

      Europe also has a sizable african population you know, and they also had african slaves.

      What is interesting is, who was stupid enought not to see that this would cause problems.

      • What is interesting is, who was stupid enought not to see that this would cause problems.

        Sony marketing gurus, thats who. For the price of a handful of billboards in Amsterdam, their new product is getting worldwide media attention. Sony knew full well that the ads would create problems. In fact, they were hoping they would. Probably the only reason they released images where the black woman is beating on the white woman is to say "hey, see, we're not racist, you misunderstood our ad."

        Sony was hop
    • This reminds me of an article I read about banning the words "master" and "slave" from being taught in colleges in reference to installing hard disk drives in a computer. What's next? Rename crackers to "salty carb sticks"?
      • Already happened: I rmember my dad being upset many years ago because he was called into HR for being "insensitive". His crime? Specifying "Male" and "Female" connectors for cables on a purchase order. Apparently the person who processed the order was offended.
    • The Internet is blurring the country lines.
    • I agree, this is so stupid. no company should be changing how they do business in a country the US doesn't have control over because we bitch.... and while on the topic of stuff that offends Americans, there is plenty of stuff in Japan that could probably be considered offensive in the US (mainly the glorification of young girls in sailor suits as "sexy"), but that doesn't mean they are preventing companies from using it as a cash cow because we don't agree with it.
      • be considered offensive in the US (mainly the glorification of young girls in sailor suits as "sexy")

        I don't know about you, but I am guessing that few, if any, of the /.'ers find offense in cute asian girls in sailor suits!
      • no company should be changing how they do business in a country the US doesn't have control over because we bitch

        As a proponent of free speech, I'd say anyone should be free to bitch about something any company does anywhere in the world. Said company is also free to completely ignore the bitching or respond to it as best suits their interests.
    • No doubt, judging from the blackface performers in the Netherlands [wikipedia.org]. Holy shit, I thought David Sedaris was kidding about the six to eight black men [cornell.edu].

      In all seriousness, I don't see the ads as being offensive - all they're doing is grabbing each other, not forcing one to pick cotton or whipping one of them in chains. It's not even risque.

      On the other hand, how could the Dutch or the ad agency not at least forsee that this would cause controversy among the more sensitive? Do they not have any black rights orga
  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by 9x320 (987156) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:39PM (#15706612)
    Now pull this one [vgcats.com].
  • A Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ggKimmieGal (982958) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:40PM (#15706628)
    How do people from the Netherlands feel about the advertisement? I'm more interested in their opinion than politically correct America. What was the reaction in the Netherlands?
    • First time I have even heard about these ads...
    • Re:A Question (Score:4, Insightful)

      by F_Scentura (250214) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:10PM (#15706889)
      The only people who cared were the American "gaming media", which was itself limited to a bunch of blogs with more ire than common sense.
    • How do people from the Netherlands feel about the advertisement? I'm more interested in their opinion than politically correct America. What was the reaction in the Netherlands?

      White people from the Netherlands or Black people from the Netherlands?
    • Nobody here cared, it didn't even hit the main news. The only reason this ad was pulled was because America had a fit.

      The interesting bit that is often not mentioned is that there were two versions, one where a white model held a black model by the throat, and one where the black model took the white model by the throat. I found both pretty decent (and the models aren't half-bad either), a pity I didn't see them irl (I do live in Amsterdam).

      What I don't get is why Americans get pissed off by something l

      • Nobody here cared, it didn't even hit the main news. The only reason this ad was pulled was because America had a fit.

        Actually, only a very small percentage of Americans seemed to notice or care at all about this. Most people I've talked to about it seemed to think that only an idiot would consider the ads to be racist. Too bad that small group was able to make enough noise to get Sony to kill the ads.
      • Actually, as someone else linked [joystiq.com] there are 3 billboards. Nice pics too.
      • "What I don't get is why Americans get pissed off by something like this, especially if it isn't in their own neighbourhood."

        We for the very large part don't. A small but vocal minority always seem to be the ones criticizing the "morals" of the world stage, whether it's counter-racist tools that in this case actually justify the advertising dollars spent, or other perceived injustices.
    • Re:A Question (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 88NoSoup4U88 (721233)
      Ugh, giving up my chance to mod this post [slashdot.org] down, but to hell with it:

      Over here in the Netherlands, the ads had been running for some time, and there were no visible complaints anywhere. It's such a shame that the over-political correct people have to censor what -I- get to see... from -their- country. WTF ?

      As this post [slashdot.org] points out, there's an equal one where one black woman is, (less agressively, I will admit that) attacking the white woman on the floor.
      Why does that, conveniently, gets pulled from the r
    • Re:A Question (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285) *
      One of the problems with being a global mega corporation in this well connected post-nafta, post-EU, post-APEC world is that it is no longer suffecient to merely worry about the advertising effect in one region. Any piece of advertising, any action whatever, is likely to leak worldwide very quickly. The very things that make the international mega corporation possible is the thing that makes the inadvertant blunders escalate to international levels.

      As many will quickly realize, this makes the advertisin

  • Deliberate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:46PM (#15706687) Journal
    This is my opinion, I have nothing to back it up but I think Sony released these ads with the intent of causing unrest. As pointed out in prior comments on Slashdot, they got some great coverage with this advertising campaign.

    But the ads rely entirely on imagery. The pictures I saw didn't even have words on them, just two women. One completely white and one completely black in all respects. As also pointed out earlier there were three images with only the white-on-top-of-black one being controversial.

    Why did they pick humans? The humans are supposed to represent PSPs, an inate object? I don't understand why this decision was made to use human beings. Put a black wolf and a white timberwolf in the image. Put a black demon and a white angel in the image. Why would you put two ethnicities of the human race that have obvious baggage attached to them. Even if it doesn't offend anyone you know, there are people alive today that are still suffering from the effects of racial tensions either directly or indirectly.

    Why did they pick women? Again, the women are representing a PSP, you're just inviting people to speculate that women are objects. And to gamers, this might be "ok" or welcomed but when you throw it on a billboard, you're only drawing heat.

    Why is there a struggle between these two subjects? Why would different colored PSPs fight each other? Are they incompatible? Is one better than the other? Again, I don't understand why they made the decision to pit them against each other in the images.

    In retrospect, no matter what their motives or realizations were, I f*cking hate marketing and all forms of it.
    • Re:Deliberate (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130)
      In retrospect, no matter what their motives or realizations were, I f*cking hate marketing and all forms of it.

      Yeah, same here.

      I guarantee you that despite whatever appology the PR flak gave, their marketing department is throwing a fucking party right now. This ad is nothing but a success for them.
    • Put a black demon and a white angel in the image

      i am highly offended by your reference of 'black demons' and 'white angels'. is was clearly meant as a racist remark. i heard of a group in the deep south that ran around wearing pillow covers over their head that thought of demons as black and angels as white. [godwin]i believe there was also a group in germany that thought along the same lines[/godwin]... perhaps the media should cover your racist statement and someone can submit ths story to slashdot.

      don'

  • by Anonymous Coward
    They targetted the ads for a very specific area, and that area doesn't seem to the be the area that is throwing a hissy fit over it.
    This is just a PR move, through and through, even if the apology is slightly bitter.
  • Interesting move. I can see that the advertisement is quite harmless (read: I don't give a shit what color their ads/devices are). I wonder what products are going to cost more to cover this move? What other advertising misfires will we be subjected to? I've already writen off Sony products, though I have been enjoying my PS2 (still!).
  • I for one... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bryansix (761547)
    think people need to lighten up. This is another case of pulling the race card when race was not involved. While Sony should have seen it coming an never released the ad; the reaction of various racial organizations was to over-react. What if the ad had a black woman grabbing the face of a white woman? I bet nobody would be bothered by that right?
  • by Rendo (918276)
    Nintendo has just released the Rainbow coloured DS Lite. It was heard that they are a multicultural hand-held company and won't make the same mistakes Sony has.
  • This is pretty clearly a case of viral marketing. Sony's ad agency for this piece was TBWA [tbwa.com], who market themselves as 'disruptive idea makers.' As has already been stated many times, why spend cash on a huge campaign when you have the collective dissemination might of the media giants to do it for you. Down to the brass tacks here folks - Do you really think little Billy and Jane give two craps about the socio-political aspects of this ad? All they want is the new Pokemon Digi-farm 2007 Gold Extra Special P
    • "All they want is the new Pokemon Digi-farm 2007 Gold Extra Special Photo Pack 12."

      which is why they buy a DS. ; ) . I partly agree with you but they are shooting themselves in the foot with this one... people really are frightened of being called racist (I think that this has caused us to still see nothing but the colour and not the person). If it makes me seem racist would I buy a PSP, even if I did want one? it would make me think twice (well, it wouldn't, but it's part of my point). A lot of peo
  • Malice & Stupidity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cleon (471197) <cleon42@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:15PM (#15706938) Homepage
    I'm a firm believer in the idea, "never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity."

    I deal with my company's marketing department often; they inevitably display all the forethought and insight of a mentally challenged rutabaga. The chances of this being a consciously racist ad are virtually zero.

    Furthermore, it's not like the PSP is doing poorly in the sales department; they really don't need to generate this kind of controversy just to get their name in the media. The planned prices for PS3 is doing that just fine.

    At the end of the day, this just strikes me as another attack of the stupids.
    • I agree with you that this was most likely just something that no one had considered might be seen as offensive.

      For example, a co-worker of mine designed an ad for a massage therapist. The ad used artwork from our purchased library of a woman, face down on a table, getting a shoulder rubbed by a very strong hand.

      In order to make room for new copy, the picture was cropped. The customer decided to fade out the portion that had the head and some miscellaneous background. The ad was approved, it ran, and no one
    • I'm a firm believer in the idea, "never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity."

      I dunno... I've always felt that sometimes outright malice is forgiven for pretending to be stupid.
  • About Sex... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sesshomaru (173381) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:21PM (#15707003) Journal
    Seriously, the ads were about sex, not violence. I know not everyone would find the models in the ads attractive, but they were supposed to be. The Ads were supposed to be titillating, not racially charged. Seriously, if you look at other, similar Ads (i.e. models posing and "doing stuff"), you'll see the same thing.

    Once, a few years ago, they had some ad with a really attractive woman shaving her face with some new razor, saying, "ooh, is this the sensitive part... poor baby." Obviously, the purpose of the ad wasn't the shaving (or they would have some gruff, bearded man shaving).

    So, all the controversy? It was about people totally not getting the ads.

    • But otherwise, yeah, you're right. Taken -out- of the context of the ads, and without the unfortunate "White is coming" tagline, they actually make for a pretty good art series that doesn't look racist, actually the opposite. I don't know if the artist intended them to be ordered as such, but if you start with the one with them squaring off and snarling at each other, followed by the white woman grabbing the other woman's face in what's both an aggressive and intimite gesture, followed by the white woman
    • Once, a few years ago, they had some ad with a really attractive woman shaving her face with some new razor, saying, "ooh, is this the sensitive part... poor baby."

      That's hilarious. Well, I read that ad as a knock at men, but it is sort of about shaving - just not about shaving some guys beard. The puritanical american would be appalled at such an ad (though...if they get the joke, they're not that innocent).
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @02:51PM (#15707273) Homepage Journal
    From Rick Callendar, president of the San Jose NAACP.. "Their attempt to contrast colors clearly created controversy and sparked painful feelings in the global community."

    My socks never match each other. Should I steer clear of this guy?
  • ...would have been to tell the people bitching and moaning to grow up or shut the hell up. Seriously Sony needs to grow a backbone.
  • The ad wasn't intentionally racist, but Sony that that correlating PSP colors with skin color (race) was clever, when it's not; it's just lame.
  • There's a hater for everything. Everything bothers SOMEONE. Guess Sony's not so big and bad when people start crying and pulling out the race card. FFS the damned thing was ART. I've seen far worse topics get PRAISE. :(

fortune: cannot execute. Out of cookies.

Working...