In one of the most competitive markets in recent years, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have been battling it out for games console dominance. Whilst Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) sold over double the amount of Microsoft’s Xbox One, the company’s PR team certainly hasn’t rested on its laurels when promoting the PS5, its latest console.
Here, we take a look at some of the clever moves Sony made to ensure the launch of the PS5 was their best yet.
The tech world is filled with rumours and whispers of what the next generation gaming console would look like. Understanding this, Sony had two options when it came to letting buyers know about the PS5. Microsoft chose to provide a lot of information early on about its rival gaming system the Xbox Series X . This created an initial bubble of excitement surrounding the product and what it could offer its buyers. It seems this approach backfired though as the initial enthusiasm slowly died down, as consumers knew what they were getting but had to wait months on end for the product to arrive in stores.
However, Sony went for a different approach. Keeping quiet on nearly all developments, Sony trickled small bits of information to consumers throughout 2020 to create a consistent level of anticipation. From a simple logo announcement, to a controller reveal to whet the appetite of information-starved fans. These tactics created huge amounts of media hype before the console was finally showcased near to the date it would be made available for purchase. It may explain why 2.1 million to 2.5 million units of the PS5 were sold in total on its two US launch days, compared to an estimated 1.2 million to 1.4 million units sold of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
In recent years, celebrities have become integral to many PR and marketing campaigns. The right influencer can access key demographics for a brand and PlayStation chose their personalities wisely. Marcus Rashford [footballer], Naomi Osaka [tennis player], Michael B Jordan [actor] and Travis Scott [rapper] were all given early access to the console to share their thoughts and experience on the PlayStation 5. These faces covered a range of ages as well as sports, fashion and pop culture in order to put the PlayStation in the media spotlight . Whilst Xbox did feature an advert with actor, Daniel Kaluuya, they didn’t involve a wide range of celebrities to consistently promote the product, potentially contributing to the comparatively smaller excitement surrounding it’s release.
Creative and unique campaigns
Sony ramped up their campaigns in the final weeks before the launch of the PS5 with some of their most creative ideas yet. Firstly, they partnered with Travis Scott to create a 10 minute video showcasing the rapper giving away PS5s, as well as gaming with fans in a custom made Travis Scott x PlayStation minivan.
They also turned to classic London Underground logos into the iconic X, O, square and triangle PlayStation button logos, turning heads in one of London’s most iconic tube stations, Oxford Circus.
Another clever partnership forged by Sony was with UK high street bakery, Greggs, to release a gaming box filled with snacks to go alongside users’ 8 new consoles.
This stream of innovative campaigns in the final lead up to the release ensured there was a renewed excitement around the console as launch day approached. Whilst Xbox did increase their marketing prior to the release of their console, it was self-deprecating [playing on the calls that their new console looks like a fridge] and ultimately, a reactionary response to public opinion. These types of campaigns have the scope to be successful but in this case appeared to be a quick response to quell the criticisms about the appearance of their newest release.
Having had time to let the campaigns reach audiences and for the consoles to launch, it’s looking like Sony are on for another successful generation of consoles. Their limited information, innovative campaigns and smart celebrity endorsement appear to have paid dividends as they continue to lead the way in the fierce gaming market.