Sony party sparks outrage over animal cruelty

Between fake blogs, billboards with potentially offensive racial subtext, graffiti, and ads accused of encouraging "violent or anti-social behavior," it seems most of Sony's controversial advertising stems from the promotion of its PlayStation Portable system. Now the PlayStation 2 is getting...

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Between fake blogs, billboards with potentially offensive racial subtext, graffiti, and ads accused of encouraging "violent or anti-social behavior," it seems most of Sony's controversial advertising stems from the promotion of its PlayStation Portable system. Now the PlayStation 2 is getting a taste of uproar, as an Athens, Greece press event for Sony's God of War II has prompted outrage from animal rights activists over its use of a decapitated goat.

Yesterday, the Web site (warning: graphic content) of London paper The Daily Mail posted a story on the event titled, "Slaughter: Horror at Sony's depraved promotion stunt with decapitated goat." The article stems from another article covering the event from a different slant, one that appeared in the latest issue of UK Official PlayStation Magazine.

That article, running under the headline "Sony's Greek Orgy," showed a picture of the goat in a two-page spread. According to The Mail, it also described the event in detail, saying that attendees were invited to eat offal out of the animal's stomach, throw knives at targets, grab live snakes from pits, and be fed grapes by topless women.

A spokesperson for the International Fund for Animal Welfare condemned the party to The Mail, saying that using the dead animal to boost a game's sales was "outrageous."

When contacted by GameSpot UK, a Sony Europe representative distanced the company from the event, as well as the official magazine's coverage thereof, and offered the following explanation and apology:

The event took place in Athens on 1st March, and was attended by a small number of specialist & lifestyle journalists, from a variety of European countries. SCEUK did not attend, or have any input into the creation or management of this event.

The article in UK Official PlayStation Magazine (OPSM), from which the Mail on Sunday article was sourced, was written by a journalist who did not attend and done on the basis of the invitation for the event, which employed a degree of hyperbole in order to encourage attendance--the journalist chose to take it as fact.

The photograph was one of many supplied to the magazine to provide a balanced view of the event. Unfortunately, the article was sensationalised and focused on a picture that was unrepresentative of the wider event. When we saw the article for the first time on Thursday of last week we contacted the publisher of OPSM who accepted that the article was not appropriate for their broad audience. On Friday, before we had received any contact from the media, they agreed to remove the article before the magazine goes on general sale.

The event was a theatrical dramatisation with a Greek mythological theme and, as part of the set dressing, a dead goat was sourced by the production company from a local butcher. Following the mainstream popularity of shows such as 'I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of here' a series of challenges were set for the journalists. The 'warm entrails' referred to in the invitation and in the Mail on Sunday article was actually a meat soup, made to a traditional Greek recipe and served to attendees in china bowls direct from the caterers. There was never any question of journalists being able to touch the goat, or indeed eat the soup direct from the body of the goat, as one report has alleged. The goat was returned to the butcher at the end of the event.

We recognise that the use of a dead goat was in poor taste and fell below the high standards of conduct we set ourselves. We are conducting an enquiry to establish the circumstances behind the event in order to ensure this does not happen again. We also apologise to anyone offended by the article in the OPSM (subscription copies were sent out ahead of street date).

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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