Sony pulls controversial Dutch PSP ad
Sony Corp said on Tuesday it had pulled a Dutch billboard advertising campaign for the new white version of its PlayStation Portable video game player and apologized to anyone offended by the ad, which critics dubbed racist.
A billboard ad in the campaign -- which Sony said was launched in the first week of June and created locally and exclusively for the Dutch market -- portrayed a white woman aggressively grabbing the face of a black woman and read "PlayStation Portable White is Coming."
Sony said that the Netherlands campaign intended to highlight the color contrast between the existing black PSP and the new ceramic white PSP.
Instead, the ad campaign riled California Assemblyman Leland Yee, the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a youth civil rights education project called Sojourn to the Past.
Those critics condemned Sony's use of the racially charged photo to sell a product and said it recalled an age and time when black people were portrayed in minstrel shows.
"We recognize that the subject matter of one specific image may have caused concern in some countries not directly affected by the advertising. As a result, we have now withdrawn the campaign," said Sony, which has also removed the image from its Dutch PSP site and apologized to those put off by the ad.
"I am pleased to see Sony taking responsibility for their racially charged ad and appropriately pulling it from the marketplace," said Yee, who has spearheaded state legislation aimed at keeping excessively violent and sexually explicit games out of the hands of minors.
Late last year, Sony sparked controversy in the United States with spray-painted PSP ads that looked like urban graffiti. The stealth campaign featured dazed-looking kids doing a variety of things with their PSPs, from riding them like skateboards to licking them like lollipops.
Each of Sony's controversial PSP campaigns has created massive buzz in the Internet blogosphere -- which can work to the company's advantage.
The PSP's closest competitor is Nintendo Co Ltd.'s DS, a dual-screened mobile game device.
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