Sony’s Fake Graffiti

Status: Faux-rilla marketing campaign
image In order to promote its new handheld game player, Sony is paying artists to spray paint fake graffiti on buildings in major cities. (They're also paying the building owners for the right to spray paint the graffiti, which consists of images of spaced-out kids playing with the new handheld device.) But according to an article in Wired, the fake graffiti has provoked the anger of some city residents, who have spray painted over the images messages such as "Get out of my city," and "Fony." The Wired article points out that this isn't the first time advertisers have created fake graffiti: "In 2001, IBM paid Chicago and San Francisco more than $120,000 in fines and clean-up costs after its advertising agency spray-painted Linux advertisements on the cities' sidewalks." In Hippo Eats Dwarf I also briefly discuss how The Gap once spray-painted fake graffiti on its store windows. The phenomenon is called faux-rilla marketing (i.e. guerrilla marketing that relies on fake elements).

But I wouldn't put it past Sony to have stage-managed this entire controversy. In other words, Sony could have paid the people who spray-painted the angry messages over the original images. After all, the Sony marketers would have to know that fake graffiti, on its own, isn't much of a story. In fact, most people would never even notice it. But fake graffiti that provokes an angry response is likely to get media attention. This theory occurs to me because the Sony spokeswoman quoted in the article, Molly Smith, sounds a bit too pleased by the angry response the graffiti is provoking:

When asked about the criticism, Smith countered that art is subjective and that both the content and the medium dovetailed with Sony's belief that the PSP is a "disrupter product" that lets people play games, surf the internet and watch movies wherever they want.


Posted on Mon Dec 05, 2005


"guerrilla marketing that relies on fake elements"

<jaw hits ground>

A little birdie is whispering in my ear that this so-called 'faux-rilla' term is a trifle dedundant. Surely the 'faux' bit in 'faux-rilla marketing' is already adequately covered by the word 'marketing'? What on earth is guerilla marketing without fake elements?

God I hate marketing people's egregious conviction that what they are engaged in is somehow the pinnacle of honesty.

Department of Redundancy Bureau
Posted by outeast  on  Tue Dec 06, 2005  at  01:24 AM
I agree with Outeast, and also concur.
Posted by Steph  on  Tue Dec 06, 2005  at  02:50 AM
So Sony is engaging in more dishonest practices? Why I am not surprised. Question is; what still remains undiscovered?
Posted by VL  on  Tue Dec 06, 2005  at  03:09 AM
What still remains undiscovered? How much more evidence of their evil do you need?

I could find out they make animal porn with their own children, and it wouldn't lower my opinion of them any more.
Posted by Terry Austin  in  Surf City USA  on  Tue Dec 06, 2005  at  03:12 PM
You need a Thneed! A Thneed is a thing you need!

I'm still pissed off that people think a cell phone is a necessity.
Posted by Joe  in  St. Louis  on  Tue Dec 06, 2005  at  07:24 PM
I just LOVE when huge corporations engage in fake "subversive" advertising. Yup, nothing more subversive than a billion-dollar-a-year international corporation. Stick to the Man, Sony!
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:11 AM
When the lawyer for my publisher reviewed Hippo Eats Dwarf (to make sure I wasn't libelling anyone in it), she noted that there were certain companies whose names kept coming up throughout the book because of the stupid stunts they had pulled. Sony was one of them (Microsoft was the other). But she didn't think it was a problem since I wasn't making up any of the stuff they had done.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  09:07 AM
heya every 1 add me on bebo i hav a graffiti band add me on dis calvincooke
Posted by calvin  in  dublin  on  Sat Jan 20, 2007  at  04:46 PM
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