Jump Out: A history of PlayStation, in ads

Sony has started the next console war with a series of new ads promoting its 2/20 event. We take a look at classic moments in PlayStation marketing to see where they may be going next.


Sony is expected to announce its next PlayStation console at its February 20th press event. Every day until then, Shacknews will look at PlayStation's history, and analyze what that could mean for the company's future.

"Jump Out. PlayStation Changes Gaming 2/20."

It may not seem like much, but this targeted Google ad is the beginning of the next console war. It is, essentially, the first ad for the next PlayStation system. Discovered by NeoGAF, Sony has already bought ad space promoting its upcoming meeting, and is taking a few jabs at its competitors. "Jump Out" seems like a direct jab at Microsoft's "Jump In" slogan for Xbox 360, which has dominated the console wars in America for the past two years.

Another ad pokes fun at the industry's growing focus on social and motion games, claiming "Yoga Isn't Gaming." (Odd, considering Sony's own motion efforts.)

While these text ads aren't going to make a big splash of their own, they show an aggressive confidence typical of PlayStation messaging. While Sony's marketing efforts have been quiet in the past months, it's clear that new agency BHH is ready to strike fast and hard.

Sony has never played "fair" in its marketing. When the company entered the console market, it defeated Nintendo by going for a more edgy vibe with its "U R not E" campaign. In an era where mascots had to sell systems, Crash Bandicoot proved to have the most attitude.

Unfortunately, it took many years for Sony to finally find the right marketing message for PS3. At launch, it was difficult to properly explain why gamers should pick up Sony's $599 black box. Sure, it was a Blu-ray player. And yeah, it had free online gaming. But, for some reason, Sony thought that having a plastic baby crying would be evocative of their multimedia aspirations.

Three years after the launch of the PS3, Sony finally found the perfect message for PS3: "It Only Does Everything." And not only did it have an effective way of summing up its console, it had a charismatic character to do it with. Kevin Butler was a tremendous success for the publisher, with the character even appearing at their E3 keynote. Couple the fresh new marketing message with an attractive price point, Sony was finally able to become the best-selling home console.

The rapid rise (and fall) of PS3 sales shows how incredibly influential proper marketing can be. Unfortunately for Sony, their fortunes wouldn't last for the rest of the generation. Sony eventually cut ties with the Kevin Butler actor via lawsuit, but it was able to pull out one more "win" for this generation. Its "Long Live Play" commercial has garnered nearly 12 million views on YouTube.

But even with the success of the "Michael" ad campaign, Sony cut ties with ad agency Deutsch earlier this month to allow BBH to bring it into the era of Orbis. Given the messaging of Sony's 2/20 ads, it's clear that they are trying to appeal to the hardcore gamer, much like its "Michael" ad. That could prove to be a successful strategy for Sony, as Microsoft repositions the Xbox brand away from games and to general "entertainment." Sony will need to ensure that the onslaught of next-gen messaging is effective--how else are we going to make sure that PS9 becomes a reality?

Andrew Yoon was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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  • reply
    February 15, 2013 12:30 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Jump Out: A history of PlayStation, in ads.

    Sony has started the next console war with a series of new ads promoting its 2/20 event. We take a look at classic moments in PlayStation marketing to see where they may be going next.

    • reply
      February 15, 2013 4:44 PM

      Games matter to gamers, ads are for casual consumer but still exciting after a long current gen. I want to see lots of game announcements for Ps4. As primarily a playstation and a PC gamer, I will purchase PS4 day one for games. I will buy the next xbox eventually for entertainment and Halo.
      Great articles Andrew.

    • reply
      February 15, 2013 10:00 PM

      I also really liked these adds for the PS3- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_Zz_7FLQ4s

      And the PS3 had the best fan made add ever for a console

    • reply
      February 16, 2013 6:33 AM

      Best PS3 ad was this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dQyq5krdXI

      It is actually one of my favorite video game console ads because it really does show off what the machine can do and lets the software do the talking.

    • reply
      February 16, 2013 9:19 AM

      People have been ragging on Sony for marketing but I feel they had, overall, the better and more memorable adds this generation. And they have also had the best press conference in last few years when compared to the Xbox and Nintendo. The GamesCom press conference last year knocked it out of the park and fixed the minor mistakes Sony made at their E3 conference.

    • reply
      February 17, 2013 9:16 AM

      The SEGA fanboy in me loves marketing like this. "Jump Out" indeed. :D

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