Sony Ads Cause Another Firestorm; Cal Pol Jumps In

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Sony sparked another controversial advertisement firestorm this past week with a PlayStation Portable ad from Holland depicting a white woman clutching the throat of a black woman. Sony says the ads highlight the new color being unveiled with the tagline “PlayStation Portable. White is coming.” Many people aren’t buying it though, with one site saying that the white woman appears to have “a sort of rock star, supermodel look” while the black woman “is reduced to some sort of mood-setting, elemental force.”

The question is are people overreacting? Apparently Californians don’t think so. Both the San Jose NAACP and a San Francisco politician have weighed in, despite the fact that the ad only appeared in Holland, which ironically happens to be nearly 5,500 miles away from San Francisco. Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Leland Yee said that he was “deeply disappointed in Sony’s senseless decision to publish this racially-charged advertisement” and that “I can’t begin to determine Sony’s motivation but I believe this marketing strategy is unnecessary and is clearly offensive.”

Sony is not a newcomer to controversial advertisements. The company angered and later apologized to Catholics last October when an ad portrayed a young man wearing a crown of thorns with the slogan “Ten years of passion”. “This time they’ve gone too far,” said Antonio Sciortino, editor of Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family). “If this had concerned Islam there would have been a really strong reaction.” Ironically a few months later, cartoons featuring Muhammad sparked global protests.

Last December Sony was slapped with a cease-and-desist order from the Managing Director of Philadelphia when Sony painted graffiti advertisements on buildings. Similar graffiti ads were reported across the United States in New York and San Francisco with a Sony spokesperson confirming hiring graffiti artists in the cities of Chicago, Miami and Atlanta. The reaction was harsh from residents in the area with one saying, “They’re breaking the law,” and another person saying that “I thought it was sneaky. Not cool.”