Sony Releases Flurry of Nine New Spots in Holiday Push

With the release of nine 30-second spots from TBWA\Chiat\Day, Sony has kicked off an estimated $30 million holiday push for EyeToy, its new PlayStation 2 peripheral, and several game titles.

The EyeToy, a camera that integrates the player’s image into the interactive gamespace, arrives in stores this week following a July release in the U.K., where it has been a top seller. “EyeToy is one of those things that is complex to understand unless you are standing in front of it—and easy to get when you are,” said Jerry Gentile, creative director at the Playa del Rey, Calif., shop. “We wanted to get the idea out that there is a new type of gaming, a concept that changes the form.”

The two spots for EyeToy, which broke last week, parody the rubes of a mock Mayberry, replete with diner, barbershop and amber glow. In “Billy,” the town folk rush excitedly to a boy’s living room, shouting, “Billy’s on TV!” The crowd marvels at the EyeToy atop the TV, which has integrated Billy into a game on the screen.

In “Sheriff,” the local lawman notes the enthusiasm of girls admiring Billy and declares, pointing first to Billy, then to his onscreen image, “Now hold on here. If that’s Billy, who is that?” Both spots end with the PlayStation tag, “Live in your world. Play in ours.”

“Steven Spielberg was recently quoted as saying we would be seeing more ‘self-tailored’ entertainment,” said Carisa Bianchi, chief strategy officer. “This really fits the bill. Wanting to see yourself on TV works with the reality TV gestalt of entertainment.”

Four spots for the game “Ratchet & Clank” break this week, continuing a campaign showing teens reeking havoc in their backyards with gizmos from the game. Three ads use the home-video style of reality shows, with teens accidentally blowing up the neighbor’s backyard with the gravity bomb, using the tractor beam to haul in a tin can—and bringing a tumbling mobile home, satellite dish and garbage can along for the ride—and shooting off into space with the gravity boots. A fourth spot uses all game shots but the same tagline: “51 weapons and gadgets not fit for this world.”

Spots for the titles “NBA Shootout ’04” and “Socom 2” emphasize the remote gameplay capabilities via cyberspace proxies. “Our research has shown that men say, ‘My wife bags on me if I have to leave home to play games,’ ” said Bianchi. “So we communicate the online experience without leaving the house.”

The Socom ad, directed by Kinka Usher, combines two teen fantasies. A pudgy guy, a slacker and military-fit teens in their respective homes play online as teams, each with a war-movie-inspired moniker. One takes out a teammate with friendly fire, then loses the battle because he’s transfixed by bikini-clad women at the pool outside his apartment window.

In “One on One,” two NBA players on two separate courts seem to play by themselves, yet the soundtrack suggests a contest. The spot cuts to two game players, each in his own luxurious home, headsets on, controls in hand. “You can’t handle this, G.P.,” says one. “Yeah, whatever, Ray,” says the loser. The voiceover says the game “lets you play online with other hoops fans, no matter where they are.”

PlayStation is well ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s Game Cube as a game platform, with estimated 2003 sales of $2.6 billion, vs. $975 million for Xbox and $775 million for Game Cube, according to IDG Entertainment.

In fourth quarter 2002, Nintendo led ad spending with $40 million, followed by Sony with $30 million on videogame titles alone, Electronic Arts ($35 million), Infogrames ($20 million-plus), Sega ($14 million) and Microsoft Xbox ($12 million), according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.