Debate over a recent Sony billboard in the Netherlands advertising the release of the Ceramic White PlayStation Portable in the region was fittingly white-hot last week. That's when an ad featuring a Caucasian woman holding a black woman by the jaw in a threatening manner was decried as racially insensitive.
Today, one of those who criticized the ad and condemned Sony for running it, California Assemblyman Leland Yee, instead commended the publisher. According to a statement from Yee, Sony has pulled the advertising campaign and apologized to anyone offended by it.
"I am pleased to see Sony taking responsibility for their racially charged ad and appropriately pulling it from the marketplace," Yee said. "Sony did the right thing by recognizing their insensitive mistake and apologizing for offending many of their customers."
Yee was backed in his condemnation of Sony by representatives from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the civil rights education group Sojourn to the Past. Sony originally defended the ad, saying its only intent was to contrast the colors of its two models of PSP. It still didn't sit well with Rick Callender, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP.
"Their attempt to contrast colors clearly created controversy and sparked painful feelings in the global community," Callender said. "Hopefully in the future, Sony will employ a better litmus test to their ad campaigns to determine if they will be sour to the taste of worldwide consumers."
[UPDATE]: A Sony representative confirmed for GameSpot that the ads had been pulled, and offered the following statement:
Whilst the images used in the campaign were intended solely to highlight the contrast between the different colors available for the PSP, we recognize that the subject matter of one specific image may have caused concern in some countries not directly affected by the advertising. As a result, we have now withdrawn the campaign.
We further recognize that people have a wide variety of perceptions about such imagery and we wish to apologize to those who perceived the advert differently to that intended. In future, we will apply greater sensitivity in our selection of campaign imagery, and will take due account of the increasingly global reach of such local adverts, and their potential impact in other countries.
According to the Sony representative, the company had only received a single complaint about the ads from within the Netherlands.