The Force Is With PlayStation 2

NEW YORK In a holiday spot for Sony’s PlayStation 2, people morph into dogs or take flight when they walk into a magical force field surrounding an electronics store. As a crowd gathers, it turns out the force field is emanating from a PlayStation 2 in the shop’s window.

“We were trying to make a big splash at Christmas time, as well as trying to say something about the brand,” said Jerry Gentile, creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., about the spot. “We wanted to make sure we had something that really supported core gamers . . . and also says something to non-gamers.”

Gentile said a specific effort was made to portray the range of action found in games. As people from the crowd enter the force field, their actions vary widely, from a delivery bike spinning around to people fighting or becoming invisible.

“We were trying to get that message to people that [PlayStation 2 games] are not just fighting games,” Gentile said. “They’re a bunch of games that let you explore different senses and emotion.”

The ad, directed by Laurence Dunmore, was shot in Los Angeles at the beginning of November. At first, the creative team, which also included copywriter Raymond Hwang, thought the force field should be visible only to the crowd surrounding it. But with input from the client, the concept evolved, making the magic zone visible via an aura of colors. Special effects on the spot, which broke late last month and runs in 30- and 60-second versions, were created by Digital Domain. Leslie Ekker was the visual effects supervisor.

“Live in your world. Play in ours” remains the tagline.

Sony Computer Entertainment America in Foster City, Calif., spent about $98 million on ads in 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.