Sony PSP ads spark cries of racism

A new Sony outdoor advertising campaign in the Netherlands for its PSP handheld gaming device has drawn accusations of racism from online critics. The giant billboards show a very tough looking white woman, dressed in white, gripping a black woman, dressed in black, by the jaw with the slogan: "PlayStation Portable White is coming." The PSP Updates blog describes the ad as "horrifically ill-advised," and notes that it comes hard on the heels of similarly tasteless campaigns in the U.S. and Italy.

While Sony pulled some of its Italian ads, the company appears to be defending its White vs. Black campaign: "A variety of different treatments have been created as a campaign to either highlight the whiteness of the new model or contrast the black and the white models," a Sony spokesperson told "Central to this campaign has been the creation of some stunningly photographed imagery, that has been used on large billboards throughout Holland."

"Stunning" does sum it up, don't you think?
Posted by Oliver Ryan 10:40 AM 40 Comments comment | Add a Comment

You might alo notice that her crucifix appears to be upside down. THAT'S probably not worth comment.
Posted By william Jusko, Tabernacle, NJ : 1:28 PM  

Highly insensitive. What idiot came up with this ad?
Posted By Henry, Dallas, Texas : 1:54 PM  

If it were a black grabbing a white, then I doubt whether anyone would complain. Don't buy the product if you don't like the company or its ad campaigns. But don't sicken the rest of us with your phoney cries of racism. Has anyone heard from Jesse Jackson on this yet -- this could be a great opportunity for one of his patented corporate shake downs.
Posted By Jeff, Cleveland, OH : 1:55 PM  

This is a joke, right?? Is this 1960 or 2006? Sony should be ashamed of themselves for releasing such a racist ad. Also, the African American female that is shown in the ad is a disgrace to her race. She just set the African American movement back 100 years!
Posted By Omega, Alpharetta GA : 2:01 PM  

Geez, where is the tree and a noose? Let's not stop with the model grabbing the african american's face.

This is unbelieveable!
Posted By Terry, Detroit MI : 2:07 PM  

I will never buy Sony again. I will not support a company that does not have enough brain power to know that this ad is very offensive.
Posted By P.M., Alexandria VA : 2:19 PM  

This has got to be one of the most disgraceful untactful ads that I've come across this year. You must be really proud of yourself Sony.
Posted By Shaw, Orlando,FL. : 3:27 PM  

It looks sexy and hot. Not everything is racist, stop being such a bunch of whiners. If they do the reverse I will not be offended one bit.
Posted By Chris, Kalispell MT. : 3:44 PM  

I think people are being a bit over sensitive about this. It's an ad... get over it
Posted By Eric Zion, Il : 4:32 PM  

Hmmm, one would think that Sony would run ads like this against a focus group before going public with it. I don't buy their weak attempt at an explanation, saying that the imagery was meant to contrast the colors. They could have easily have had two caucasians with different colored clothing on with drastically different lighting or any other assortment of visual cues. I suppose in a perfect world in which racism never existed such an uproar to this ad would be silly but we don't live in that world. It's no different than trying to advertise the new PSP by depicting a post-rape scene with a man buttoning his pants walking away from a battered woman with a caption that reads: "The new PSP, don't act like you don't want it". It would trivialize a serious issue that has destroyed many people's lives, A company like Sony should understand that. They should apologize and fire whomever is green-lighting these immature ads.

Posted By Kalen Winter, Queens, NY : 4:33 PM  

It's too bad that people are looking so hard to find racism that they will find it in a place where it clearly doesn't exist. Society should grow up and realize that there is nothing about this billboard that denotes racial superiority.
Posted By Carl Minneapolis MN : 4:46 PM  

Why they would allow the ad company to present this baffeles me.
Then again, Sony latley is more known for getting thing wrong than getting things right.
Posted By Jeremy, Delray Beach FL : 5:54 PM  

I'm sure that black players will just want to go out and buy the PSP. What was Sony thinking?
Posted By Bob, LA, California : 6:24 PM  

Since we have some racist issues in the past, we are very sensitive in this particular area. However It might be less sensitive to the dutch. That's why the ad was chosen there. I find it ironic that the outcry actually comes from US but not Netherland
Posted By Joe, San Jose, California : 8:50 PM  

The Dutch have there own issues with racism. Read this following in regard to Black Peter:

Contrary to what many would like to think the ad is racist. It is my hope that the people of color and those who are sensitive in the Netherlands to such images will speak out against this kind of advertising.
Posted By Cia, Kansas City, MO : 12:49 PM  

Advertising in Europe has always struck me as being more "in your face" but this is a bit much. It simply is in bad taste at the very least. However Sony got what it wanted. Attention for and people around the world talking up the advertisement. However between this add, the CD copy protection fiasco and Sony insisting on proprietary formats (beta/minidisc/blu-ray) I'm really going to avoid Sony.
Posted By Andrew Mondt Chicago, IL : 1:51 PM  

To the people whining about this ad & referring to the one model as "African American" - she is probably neither.

Just goes to show how overly sensitive and pc-brainwashed some Americans have become...

Btw - for some reason CNN would not post my original comment yesterday. Basically I wrote what many have been saying - that this is a daring & sexy ad, and if the model's roles were reversed there would be no outcry & CNN would doubtfully even carry the story...
Posted By Chris, Raleigh NC : 4:04 PM  

So pathetic, Mr Ryan.

I like the ads. I can see how people are interpreting these ads as being racist, but I don't.

People need to take it with a pinch of salt.
Posted By Coxy, Manchester, UK : 10:19 AM  

I believe that this add was poorly chosen, however, in response to the "African-American" comment:
You cannot assume that because she is "black" that she is African American. I do no believe that all peoples with "black" skin around the world should have to be ambassadors for a minority in one country.
Posted By Anonymous, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan : 11:00 AM  

I can't wait till Sony comes out with a yellow psp. Will that ad feature an Asian vs White? Subtle racism is still racism.
Posted By xezar, Washington DC : 1:44 PM  

Of Course Had It been the other way Around. NO ONE would be Saying Anything Like this
Posted By Raymond, Holyoke,Ma : 9:03 AM  

Regardless, the person is not white...she is of "color" why would Playstation release an ad of this magnitude. For those who think it would be a different response if it were the other way around, it wouldnt least not for me. Racism is racism.
Posted By John, Atlanta Georgia : 7:23 AM  

Some of you need to realize that the man is probably neither African nor American, so do not call him that. He is black.

Do not forget that this ad is being run in Holland, where the culture is entirely different than what you are used to in this country of overdone political correctness.

Sometimes there is only racism where you look for it, so what does that make you?
Posted By Fredrik, Forest VA : 2:01 PM  

I should mention that the ad that is pictured above is taken out of context when not viewed with the rest of the series of ads that were created. These, however, are being left out of media attention as this is the only one where the white woman has the upper hand. It seems as though the photos with them on even playing fields or with the black woman with the upper hand are both deemed appropriate, while this one is not.
Posted By Fredrik, Forest VA : 2:33 PM  

This outrage is misleading - other billboards in the same campaign clearly show the 'black' woman as dominant.

Also, isn't it about time we got over this whole black vs. white must be racist thing?
Posted By GLPA, Melbourne, Victoria : 9:26 PM  

It's an add for a toy. There talking about the color of plastic.. Not the color of people's skin.. Quit it already.. It's just a color.. If you feel offended... Too Bad... Man up... It's 2006... Your equal already... Time to put it behind you... I Did..
Posted By William, New York, NY : 1:35 PM  

I was shocked, what poor taste and judgement.

A very aggressive image in a human context. They could have used a snowball, ice, avalanche, whipped cream etc.. on their current product but no go for the white race angle. What happened to the pointy hat? Perhaps the cross the white lady is wearing should also be burning?

To the NON offended.

If the next portable playstation is "Olive" and shows Osama Bin Laden grasping George Bushes face "Playstation Olive is coming" No one would be offended? Just neutral marketing of a new consumer electronic device. Please stop.
Posted By Mark. Sydney NSW Australia : 4:01 PM  

This slashdot post includes links to photos of the other two ads in the series--one with the two being positioned more equally, and one with the black woman on top. Setting it up as a conflict is pretty. .uh, stunning.
Posted By Saheli, San Francisco, CA : 8:31 PM  

I love the ad, look at all the attention it grabbed, and racism? lmao, please, americans didn't give a shit about blacks whilst they sent thousands of them to vietnam, to defend the freedoms of people who didn't even give a crap about freedom, and didn't care whether they became communist or not. just leave at the fact that it is blatant, and just eyecatching advertising
Posted By Hayabusa : 10:00 AM  

never liked sony, but now they have taken things too far. if sony is on a mission to smother and die, so be it, then i will never buy a sony product again. tv or playstation or whatever else they sell.
Posted By mo : 8:27 PM  

Well I think SONY is a very good company as, a Black American I don't see that AD as racism. So that means I still like SONY and will continue buying their products.
Posted By Roshad,Fort Lauderdale FL : 8:20 PM  

We have to remember that Sony is a Japanese company. I'm assuming most of us here are North Americans, and with that in mind, that tells us one thing... we are racially sensitive people as many of us are grown up in a multicultural society. However in Japan, they do not perceive what we as North Americans perceive as a racially sensitive. What really irritates me the most is when Americans keep projecting their cultural/political views onto others when really they should be thinking about the implications involved.

Although Japan is in general not exposed to the racial intricacies of North Americans, naivety is not an excuse. Sony should of have had the expertise required so that things like this don't happen.

But again, for the sake of humanity, don't post baseless arguments like:

'this is just an ad, who cares?'
Well, sure its an ad, but ads hold alot of meaning to it. Ads can be influential and can change the way we behave. For example propaganda is something that is quite frequent in the USA, mostly in the form of popular media (movies, video games, etc). In this case, this ad happens to be offensive to a large portion of citizens, as I know there are many blacks in the Netherlands.

'Not everything is racist'
Yes you're right, except in this case Sony is being quite socially irresponsible on an international scale. They should of had the cultural expertise to advise them of their advertisement methods.
Posted By Albert, Ottawa, Canada : 2:37 PM  

who cares. what is so offensive about it.
Posted By mare , rome, ny : 10:19 PM  

its really not racist......... but i can see why some people are offended.
Posted By Rehan, London, GB : 2:19 PM  

If the women were just standing side by side there'd be no issue ,but the fact that they're showing a white and black person in a struggle against each other ,promotes the idea of racism.
Posted By Huey Freeman, Woodcrest, MA : 8:19 PM  

Two people. One holding the others face. What's wrong with this?
Posted By Anthony, Sydney, Australia : 10:48 PM  

It's political correctness gone crazy! There is nothing racist about this advertising campaign. I bet the majority of complaints came from fat-cat white penpushers!
Posted By Bowesy, UK : 11:42 AM  

This is so dumb that people are getting so worked up over this. If it was the other way and the black woman was grabbing the white woman, no one would complain.
And to all the people who think this is racist, youre racist yourself. You shouldnt be looking at this ad and seeing people of different races, you should just see people.
Posted By Wesley from Greensboro NC : 7:31 PM  

I think that you all are over reacting. The majority of you are also wrong, and extremely blind especially in regard to the comment from the new yorker "stating that we're all equal, and should let it go". Back to the main point, you fall for this propaganda to boost CNN's, website hits and ratings. There are 3 adds in this campaign. One shows a Black woman on top of a white woman, the other shows them on level ground. This add campaign is taking place in another country where racism isn't as big of an issue as compared to the U.S. where race revolves around everything. So for all of you who are making such a big deal and boycotting Sony, I doubt that your little cries will have much of an effect. You need to choose your battles rather than jumping on every racial band wagon, that's one of the main reasons our racial outcries are often disregarded, because of people like you. I for one will still support Sony and am enjoying my PSP.
Posted By Kenneth Phillips, Atlanta GA : 10:29 AM  

if it were the black woman grabbing the white woman, no one would say anything. i am a proud black teenager, and we really looked too heavily into this ad.
Posted By AaronFX : 1:38 PM  

To send a letter to the editor about The Browser, click hereTop of page

Got a news tip? Send it to The Browser