Brands behaving badly: The Sony story

GuydoinggrafittiforsonySony Corporation is having a bad couple of weeks.  Several days ago, this came rattling out of  the teletype machine:

Security experts have found that a hidden antipiracy technology on some Sony BMG music CDs causes dangerous computer vulnerabilities – as does the company’s method for removing the original program.

This is of course disasterous from a branding point of view.  It says, "we, the corporation, don’t trust you, the consumer."  Worse, there’s a follow up.  The antipiracy debacle also says, "You shouldn’t trust us and here’s why.  We just helped ourselves to your hard drive without disclosure or permission." 

For the last couple of days we have been getting reports from the Wooster Collective about ads for the Sony PlayStation masquerading as graffiti, as pictured.

This too is very bad for branding.  It says "we are happy to help ourselves to someone’s else credibility and, no, we didn’t think you’d notice."  I believe this is another way of saying, "we, the corporation, don’t trust your intelligence and this, and the graffiti campaign, might serve as evidence that you shouldn’t trust ours." 

The success of the PlayStation is often attributed to Andrew House, a 15 year Sony executive and Oxford man.  In September, House was made CMO and group executive at Sony to oversee global marketing.  On his appointment, House said he,

foresees no changes in Sony’s marketing partnerships, which include Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day, Havas-owned McKinney + Silver and Publicis Groupe’s Fallon.

I wonder if that will change. 


Anonymous. 2005.  Sony Protection Problems at a Glance.  The Associated Press via Yahoo.  November 15, 2005.  here

Post from the Wooster Collective here

Photo from PSP updates here.

Solman, Gregory. 2005.  Sony Names Global CMO.  Adweek, September 14.  here.

2 thoughts on “Brands behaving badly: The Sony story

  1. Pingback: Corante Marketing Hub

  2. steve

    I wonder how this will play out with a few other aspects of Sony? Over the past decade they have become a follower in many areas – most of the people I know would not look to Sony for leading edge or even better-than-average-value products in many categories. They also have the confusion of being a media company (with all of the control over content that implies) and a hardware company. Combining control and hardware leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many customers – look at Sony’s “success” with digital music players as an example.

    Sony is still stone walling on another type of DRM, which is causing some fury in the tech community and will probably blow up in their faces.

    Meanwhile many technical adroit people – the folks who tell other which HDTV or PC to buy – have sworn off Sony.

    amazingly stupid moves

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