December 14th, 2006, 12:53 Posted By: Darksaviour69
Admits to being "busted" by eagle-eyed Internet users
Sony Computer Entertainment America has admitted that a blog purporting to be the work of real life PSP fans was in fact part of a marketing campaign designed to promote the handheld in the run-up to Christmas.
The site, alliwantforxmasisapsp.com, appeared to be have been designed by two friends and featured downloadable PSP greetings cards and t-shirt transfers. It also hosted a video showing "Cousin Pete" rapping about the handheld, which has since been removed from both the site and from YouTube.
"Consider us your own personal psp hype machine, here to help you wage a holiday assault on ur parents, girl, granny, boss - whoever - so they know what you really want," a message on the site read.
However, visitors to the site became suspicious and discovered that it had been registered by marketing company Zipatoni which, according to its own website, offers "integrated multimedia marketing initiatives".
Zipatoni's site lists SCE as a client, and featured a picture (also now removed) of an employee who bears a striking resemblance to a man posing in a home-made PSP t-shirt on alliwantforxmasisapsp.com.
As a result the blog was flooded with complaints from critics exposing its true origins. They have since been removed, along with the video, and the welcome message has been replaced with the following message, credited to Sony Computer Entertainment America: "Busted. Nailed. Snagged. As many of you have figured out (maybe our speech was a little too funky fresh???), Peter isn't a real hip-hop maven and this site was actually developed by Sony.
"Guess we were trying to be just a little too clever. From this point forward, we will just stick to making cool products, and use this site to give you nothing but the facts on the PSP."
It seems likely that Sony will need to take more care with its guerrilla marketing campaigns in the future - and not just to avoid a backlash from consumers.
According to the Washington Post, the Federal Trade Commission has warned companies "engaging in word-of-mouth marketing" that they must disclose details of who is endorsing the product. A failure to do so, the FTC said, could be seen as deceptive.
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