Ad assault heralds $399 40GB PS3 launch

Senior marketing VP unveils new NA TV campaign touting the most affordable version of console yet--and its Blu-ray functionality.

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Today, the 40GB PlayStation 3 went on sale in North America. The console, which was formally announced in mid-October after months of rumors, costs $399 in the US and C$399 in Canada, reflecting the fact that the "Loonie" is now worth more than the Greenback. Like the 80GB PS3--which now retails for $499/C$499--the 40GB model will have built-in Wi-Fi networking and Blu-ray Disc media support. However, unlike its bigger brother, it will sport only two USB ports, and will not have any media card slots or backward compatibility with PlayStation 2 games.

Sony Computer Entertainment America is supporting the PS3's launch with a new ad campaign after having mixed success with its marketing strategy. In Europe, its "This is Living" campaign baffled audiences both in and outside advertising and game industries. The series of multilingual ads showed a multiethnic cast engaged in various nongaming activities, such as taking baths, jumping on trampolines, using the toilet, sticking hands into boiling water, and waxing philosophical about existence. None of the ads featured any images of the PlayStation 3 console, let alone game footage.

In North America, though, Sony's PS3 marketing campaign--which bore the slogan "Play Beyond"--was more straightforward. Its focus was on the console itself, with several TV spots showing the black PS3 performing reality-bending feats in a sterile white room.

While less obnoxious than the fake graffiti and crazed rodents used to sell the PlayStation Portable, the initial "Play Beyond" campaign didn't exactly cause a media sensation. So now, Sony Computer Entertainment America is launching a new series of slicker, more energetic TV ads touting both the present and future functionalities of the PS3.

"We received a strong reaction to [the White Room] ads for being provocative and demonstrating the PS3's power," said SCEA senior VP of marketing Peter Dille on the official PlayStation.com blog. "With those technology messages now firmly embedded, we wanted to move beyond the 'power' message with a more high-energy, entertainment driven focus for the PS3."

Though they still bear the "Play Beyond" slogan, the new "Universe of Entertainment" TV spots are much more dynamic than their predecessors. The first in the series will start hitting airwaves alongside the launch of the new $399 40GB PS3, which goes on sale in North America. The first TV spot showcases several exclusives--Heavenly Sword, Ratchet & Clank Future, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Warhawk, and Gran Turismo 5--as well as the fact that the 40GB PS3 comes bundled with the Blu-ray disc of Spider-Man 3. It also touts the free PlayStation Network and the PlayStation Home social networking/game matchmaking service. The latter was originally slated to launch this holiday season, but was postponed to early 2008 at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show.

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