Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Disruptive Marketing or Just Disruptive?

In a way you have to pity Sony Corp. Their recent history is one of missed opportunities, questionable product quality, root kits and lack luster sales. Now in an attempt to "connect" with core-gamers (a strategy Nintendo avoided rather successfully with the Wii) they have opted for an edgy approach, a strategy that seems to putting them back in hot water.

First there was the unauthorized use of Manchester Cathedral in a shoot-em-up game. Ironically the church has been a leader in ministering to those affected by gun violence. Sony did apologize but declined to pull the game or contribute to a suggested charity. This was followed by the "White Is Coming" campaign for the PSP, loudly criticized for it's overtly violent racist overtones. And now this; their latest ad for the PS-3 which depicts a youthful gamer donating blood to Nazi General and desert fox, Erwin Rommel.

However, my point here is not to rage against such questionable advertising but throw light on the unique problems encountered by such a large and diverse operation as Sony. On one hand you have Sony Pictures devoting themselves to a family-centered audience and on the other you have Sony Games with a product portfolio heavily biased towards the Mature rating. Likewise, Sony Music fights the battle with the RIAA against piracy whilst Sony Computers makes highly efficient tools to illegally download to your heart's content.

CEO Howard Stringer has fought hard to bring down the business silos at Sony but is that really possible when the philosophies around much of your product lines are completely at odds with each other? How can you keep a family friendly moniker at one division whilst impressing the guy playing Demon's Souls at another? Is this a problem exclusive to Sony or do other corporations come to mind?

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