Unintended irony, the Sony way

0001_2Sony has opened a department of unintended irony and not a moment too soon. 

As we noted a couple of days ago, terrible damage was done to the brand by the installation of anti-piracy software and the world is reacting badly to the PlayStation graffiti ad campaign.  This might have been the moment for a little brand triage but the department is keen on other things. 

We have news from Britain of a new Sony Bravia campaign called Balls.  It features 250,000 colored rubber balls wildly, joyfully descending the hills of San Francisco (as pictured).

I know what you’re thinking but, no, a "balls out" visual staged at one of the centers of the American gay community is not the unintended irony I’m talking about.  I mean the notion that Sony is a corporation that should be associated with creativity unleashed. 

In her review of the campaigh, Barbara Lippert, of Adweek, has this to say:

As an object, a ball is an apt metaphor for creativity and expression. A self-contained geometric form, it releases and controls energy and provides kids and grownups alike a way to create intricate shapes and games. Shown in their multicolored aggregate in the spot, balls, like people, form crowds. We see the power and vitality (and aggression) in numbers. But at the same time, the tender, distinctive hues of individuals tend to shine through. […] There are shots of balls flying like birds in the sky, and also interesting cuts, once they have fallen, of how they pool at the curbs in random and beautiful groups.

Well and good.  (And very nicely put).  In sum, this ad is wildly at odds with the Sony we know, especially the anti-piracy debacle and the grafitti error.  It is also at odds with the arrogant performance of Andrew Lack and his antagonism of Sony partner, Bertelsmann AG.  Joy, untrammeled creativity, the exburance of motion and commotion, these are not the properties that spring to mind when we think of Sony.

There is one objective correlative that might work here.  Sony project Spider-Man 3, is scheduled for release in 2007, and it’s budget happens to be around $250 million.  Could it be that the Bravia ad is a representation, at $1000 a ball, of the sheer scale of the Spider-Man 3 risk?

Shareholder communication, it’s just so important these days. 


Kelly, Kate and Ethan Smith. 2005. Sony’s Stringer Faces Havoc At Two Units.  The Wall Street Journal. December 5, 2005; Page B1.  (sorry, wsj not giving my the URL)

Lippert, Barbara. 2005.  Barbara Lippert’s Critique: The Old Ball Game. Adweek. November 07, 2005. here