All I Want For Xmas Is A PSP
All I Want For Xmas Is A PSP was a viral website created by Sony of America employees and advertising agency Zipatoni in late 2006, in an attempt to revitalise sales of the PlayStation Portable, which were starting to stagnate in the face of competition from the Nintendo DS.
After the site was exposed as being the work of Sony, leading to a major backlash, the company shut it down.
The PlayStation Portable launched in late 2004 in Japan, and early-mid 2005 in the rest of the world, around the same time as the Nintendo DS. Sales of both handhelds were initially decent, but unexceptional, with the older Game Boy Advance initially outpacing both. Christmas 2005 saw the PSP marginally become the top-selling console of the trio, and it retained its lead into the early months of 2006. However, a strong line-up of titles for the DS later in that year - including Mario Kart DS, New Super Mario Bros., Brain Age, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - saw it completely eclipse the PSP, which continued to sell at a decent level, but now far behind that of the DS.
The website appeared to be the blog of a couple of teenagers who were trying to persuade their parents to buy them PSPs for Christmas. While there were various entries on the blog, and downloadable images intended to promote the system, the aspect of the website that attracted the most attention was a rap video supposedly made by the two teenagers. Their rap video went into oddly specific detail about the system's specifications and features (especially highlighting the ways the system was superior to the DS), made poor use of slang common in rap songs, and many viewers noted how the supposed "teenager" looked more like he was in his 20s or 30s.
After widespread ridicule for the general ineptitude of the rap video and poorly-written blog entries, the web domain was revealed to have been registered by Zipatoni, rather than the supposed creators of the blog. This was widely reported by various gaming and even mainstream news sources, leading to a backlash by gamers and consumer groups, and questions even being asked in Congress about misleading advertising by Sony and other companies.
Sony subsequently deleted the site, but various sources archived it, with the video in particular being widely posted on YouTube, which was just gaining traction as the main way of sharing videos on the internet.
Why It Sucked
- The whole project was a blatant attempt to deceive gamers. Nowhere on the site did it say that Sony themselves were behind it.
- Sony chose the worst possible time to create the website, since the PSP had been starting to get sales momentum back of its own accord, and the blowback from the website's exposure helped further damage Sony's image just at the time it was taking a major blow from the mishandled launch of the PlayStation 3.
- The rap video is absolutely cringeworthy. Not only is it obvious that the employees don't even understand rap, much less have any idea how to do it well, the lyrics (which advertise the PSP's features) don't sound even remotely like any lyrics an actual person would write. On top of that, the video features bizarre imagery including the "teenager" seemingly trying to hump a stepladder, and somehow having the detached screen bezel of a PSP despite supposedly not owning the system.
- After they were exposed, Sony at first tried to deny that the site was fake, then eventually gave an insulting non-apology in which they not only failed to actually acknowledge that they had been attempting to mislead customers, but acted as though the reason why they'd failed was because they were attempting something too radical and innovative, even though viral advertising wasn't exactly new even in 2006.
- Even the downloadable images sucked, looking like they'd been slapped together using MS Paint in about five minutes. What's more, they tended to rely on people e-mailing said images to their friends (MySpace, the most popular social network site at the time had very limited image-sharing features, while Facebook hadn't really taken off yet), meaning they weren't very effective at their intended purpose of advertising the PSP.
- Nowhere on the site did they actually bother discussing the PSP's main advantage over the DS, namely that for the time it had incredibly advanced multimedia features for a handheld device, meaning that even when you looked past the deceptive marketing practices, the site did a poor job of its intended purpose.
The Infamous Rap Video