Twiddling our thumbs while Rome burns

Since 250,000 colored balls bounced down the streets of San Francisco in 2005 Sony proved that it was an advertising force to be reckoned with. I remember seeing that advert for the first time in a cinema and being mesmerized by it. From that point onward the Bravia campaign has gone via a Glaswegian housing estate and New York City and seen nothing but success and appraisal for its efforts.

Why is it then, that Sony’s promotion and advertising for the PlayStation 3 has been somewhat lackluster in comparison? Those who followed the launch of the console will remember the early days of the “This is Living” ad campaign and the less than remarkable impact it had on the world at large. In case you don’t know or you’re suffering from amnesia I’ll remind you, Sony produced a number of short films revolving around a group of mysterious individuals at an indescript Latin American hotel. There followed transvestites, hand grenades, suitcases full of cash, tap dancing barmen, blonde bombshells and career criminals. I think I saw the ads on TV once or twice before they were resigned to the PlayStation Store indefinitely.

It’s not that the adverts were bad, or any since then. It’s just they failed to capture the intensity and vibrance that the ads of PS3’s hi-def sibling have. It seems the PS3’s advertising really hasn’t set the world on fire in the way the guys at SCEI may have hoped.

Yesterday, however, saw the emergence of two intriguing images, presumably teasers for some upcoming campaign. Whether they were leaked as some are reporting or whether they were deliberately released in an effort to drum up interest is unknown. Either way, for now they are fascinating.

The bleak, dystopian world they portray shows gaming as a great industrial and almost religious enterprise and some force bearing the iconography of the PlayStation as the power behind it. It’s pretty obvious what Sony is trying to imply about itself with this, but that doesn’t mean the ads don’t have any merit. I don’t think it’s in the message where their value lies, rather in the sheer detail and overwhelming depth in their execution.

If Sony is trying to change the tone and start afresh with its advertising then now would be a good time for them to do it. Provided they’re prolific and don’t let themselves fade into obscurity it isn’t too late of the PlayStation 3 as a brand to make it’s mark on the advertising world.

[See also: PlayStation 3 Media gallery]