When a series of bizarre graffiti pieces incorporating drawings of the PSP began showing up in cities across the country, most gamers immediately smelled a(nother) viral marketing campaign. Those suspicions were confirmed a few weeks ago, when television ads featuring similar art began running. Just before New Year's Eve, Sony admitted to the BBC that it had hired graffiti artists in seven cities to paint the art on legally licensed walls in an effort to target "urban nomads."
However, the fact Sony went by the book isn't good enough for a New York City official. Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. told the New York Post that he wants Sony to take down the ads and pay $20,000 to the city's anti-graffiti program. "Children are impressionable, and if they see a wall with graffiti on it and they don't know that it's done with permission, it could very well lead to them believing that it's OK for them to do it," said Vallone. Sony defended its use of the space, saying it was merely a "different" approach to advertising.
The flap over the PSP ads isn't the first time games and anti-graffiti activists have locked horns. Last August, the organizations Keep America Beautiful and the National Council to Prevent Delinquency lambasted Atari for publishing Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, claiming the game would spark an increase in graffiti.