Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sony marketing takes a swipe at both Nintendo and Microsoft: is it in good spirit?

As the gaming world knows, Sony's going to do a big reveal tomorrow. Naturally there's a big marketing campaign attached to such an important day for the company, and Sony has opted to take a combative approach with its online ads.

The ads I am specifically referring to are these two, both less-than-subtle in poking fun at Sony's main rivals, Nintendo and Microsoft:




Predictably, fans of both Microsoft and Nintendo have reacted poorly to these ads.

So, here's the question; is Sony wrong to be so aggressive in targeting its rivals? I'd argue not. This is the equivalent of good-natured trash talking in sport, or any other competitive activity. Sony knows that it is going to be directly competing for the same dollars of Microsoft and Nintendo, and by deliberately inciting the audiences of both, this advertising campaign has gone viral.

And, importantly, it's funny. People tease one another all the time - usually it's a sign of affection. This marketing campaign, to me, seems to be nothing more than Sony recognising that the games industry doesn't have to take itself so seriously. It's literally fun and games, and so a bit of friendly ribbing can't do competition any harm.

But I can see an argument for the other hand, too. The negative sentiment that is sweeping through parts of the gaming community is not something I would have thought Sony wanted. Like a political campaign, when one politician directly attacks another, this kind of aggressive behaviour comes across to the audience as quite defensive.

In other words - it seems like Sony is more interested in pointing out the flaws in its rivals than promoting its own advantages, and that tends to represent a lack of faith in a product. With that in mind I would have thought a positive-spirited marketing campaign about what Sony is going to be offering the world would have been wiser than trying to entice people by saying "we're going to be better than them."

I'm interested to hear what other people have to think about the marketing campaign. Personal feelings aside, do you think Sony's marketing arm has made a wise decision to directly criticise its rivals?

Update: Please note that there have been questions raised about the validity of these ads. While widely reported and from reputable sources, as you'll see in the comments below the original source of the news is debatable. 

We've seen no denial from Sony on any of these reports, which, if they were fakes, should have happened now. But in the interest of accuracy, we are investigating further.
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