Talking Point: The Brilliant Build Up to Sony's PlayStation Meeting
Posted by Sammy Barker
Shock and awe
Sony’s marketing team often bears the brunt of the entire industry’s ire. Forum posters lament the company’s inability to successfully build excitement around its products, journalists and bloggers ridicule the department’s shortcomings, and developers no doubt privately ponder why their titles aren’t receiving the attention that they deserve. But while the firm’s struggled to create a furore around its output all generation, it proved that it’s not entirely incompetent with its PlayStation Meeting press conference earlier in the year.
At the time of writing, we’re mere days away from Microsoft’s big Xbox unveiling – but while our perspective is inherently skewed, it doesn’t feel like the industry’s anticipation is pulsating in quite the same way as it was when the PlayStation 4 was about to be announced. That could merely be down to timing, as the Redmond-based manufacturer is essentially following the leader, but all the same, given the company’s track record, we expected cyber space to be awash with teaser trailers, banner advertisements, and press snippets promoting the imminent event. As it happens, we’ve got a few rumours, a PlayStation Blog-esque webpage, and a few Instagram photographs of a partially constructed outhouse.
You should never count the Xbox maker out, though, and we’re sure that it’ll have the web rocking moments before its conference is set to start. Still, even if it turns up the temperature over the next few days, there’s no question that it’s failed to match the month-long build up to Sony’s hotly anticipated PlayStation Meeting. And while that doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things – let’s be honest, it’s the quality of its content that Microsoft will be judged by – it still evidences just how seriously the platform holder is treating the transition to the next generation.
Looking back on it with the benefit of hindsight, the countdown to the PS4’s unveiling was very impressive. It started with an unexpected trailer deployed out of nowhere on 31st January. That video focused on the platform’s famous face buttons, and promised to reveal a glimpse of the future a few weeks later. Everyone instantly understood what the footage was teasing, but without being specific, it kept the conversation high. Such debate was fuelled by the fact that, mere days earlier, former PlayStation president Kaz Hirai had insinuated to the press that Sony would allow Microsoft to announce its console first – a head fake that caught the entire industry by surprise.
But what the firm did especially well is keep the media’s attention on its event. Instead of shutting up shop until 20th February, it gradually started to build up hype until anticipation was at fever pitch. It did this through a sequence of trailers, each recapping key moments from the brand’s history. These included rare archive footage and news reports from the PSone and PlayStation 2 era, and were designed to drive nostalgia. The company acted upon this strategy by launching the ‘#PlayStationMemories’ trending topic on Twitter the day before the reveal itself, which prompted an article about the brand to occupy the featured topic on the BBC’s homepage.
It didn’t stop there, either. The company also employed its partnership with the Champions League to promote the event at football stadiums around Europe, and even posted snarky but fun slogans on various websites. Its colossal promotional effort paid off, too, with concurrent spectators shattering Ustream records, and it even came close to matching the same number of total views as an official NASA meteor broadcast. Furthermore, the first PS4 trailer attracted more traffic on YouTube in ten days than all of the Super Bowl commercials, an impressive feat considering the amount of mainstream attention that those advertisements ordinarily attain.
And it just goes to show that the company is capable of making a splash when it needs to. A clever combination of social media and traditional marketing transformed its press conference into a celebratory event, and allowed the firm to send a strong message regarding its next generation console. The hype has naturally died down over recent weeks, but the real battle is about to begin. The platform holder’s going to need to turn up the temperature all over again in the run up to the PS4’s launch, because Microsoft is not going to remain this quiet. Fortunately, the build up to the PlayStation Meeting has proven that the firm is not as inept in this area as we all probably assumed.
What do you think that Sony did especially well during the build up to its PlayStation Meeting press conference? Do you think that it can recapture similar enthusiasm following the announcement of Microsoft’s machine? Let us know in the comments section below.