Ad of the Day: Sony PS Vita

180 Amsterdam turns the world into a playground for the new handheld console

It's an all-too-familiar experience. You've punched a hole the size of the Holland Tunnel in the slime-drooling alien overlord with an incredible trick shot using your very last shotgun shell, and when you look up from your portable gaming device expecting some hard-earned gratitude, all you see are people trying hard not to make eye contact with the guy at the end of the subway car who keeps staring into his lap and grunt-cursing.

Consider this ad for the European launch of Sony's PlayStation Vita handheld console to be a public-service announcement, then. "Where I appear to be alone, I'm surrounded by thousands," explains one extravagantly hatted young man as he sits, apparently alone, under a neon sign. The spot, directed by Cary Fukunaga for Dutch agency 180 Amsterdam, focuses on a variety of young, cool Europeans in the middle of doing cool things like leading a platoon through a DMZ while at the beach, boxing during a manicure, and so on.

Fukunaga, who directed last year's well-received Jane Eyre film, is a pretty standard choice for PlayStation, which is to say a nonstandard choice for anybody else. Avant garde filmmaker Chris Cunningham's hellishly weird PS1 ads are among the best in the category, and I suppose it makes sense for Fukunaga, whose film is nominated for a costume-design Oscar, to come in to class up the joint. Gone are the days when you could just slap some gameplay footage up on the screen.

This spot is frankly a little too busy. There are lots of nice touches—the girl at the beach unconcernedly brushing sand off her book when her husband/boyfriend cracks open a big chest of guns is my personal favorite. But some of the gaming genres used are less familiar than others. Most notably, there's the globetrotting adventure category, represented by the German-speaking guy whose ride on the U-Bahn turns into a backpacking trip through what look like the Andes. It's pretty obviously there solely to promote the Vita's flagship launch title, Uncharted: Golden Abyss. But the Uncharted games really aren't like anything else in the gaming world, and so you're left going, "Wait, I get the boxing game, and the war game, and the soccer game, but what's that guy doing with the backpack?"

Overall, though, it's an interesting way to illustrate the most basic concept in portable gaming: effortless escapism, anytime, anywhere—and of course, the PS Vita's assertion that its new system will be more immersive than any other.

Client: Sony PlayStation Vita
Agency: 180 Amsterdam
Production Company: Independent
Director: Cary Fukunaga
ECD: Al Moseley
CD: Galen Graham
AD: Martin Terhart
CW: David Chalu
Planning Director: Jonas Vail
Agency Producer: Richard Firminger
Producer: Emma Butterworth
Executive Producer: Jani Guest
Editor: Russell Icke
Postproduction: MPC
Producer: Scott Griffin
Postproducer: Scott Griffin
Flame Operator: Ludovic Fealy
Sound Design: Factory
DOP: Adriano Goldman
Production Designer: Chris Jones
Composer: Pete Raeburn
Photographer: Alex Telford
Agency Print Producer: Meredith Bergonzi
Media Planning, Buying: OMD