Sony Playstation Promo, Case study RECAPTURING AUTHENTICITY by Voce Communications

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RECAPTURING AUTHENTICITY

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Industry Video Games/Consoles
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Voce Communications
Director Jeff Urquhart
Released April 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Social Media
Advertiser: SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA
Product/Service: PLAYSTATION BLOG
Agency: VOCE COMMUNICATIONS
General Manager/Voce Connect: Mike Manuel (Voce Communications / A Porter Novelli Company)
Founder/Executive Vice President: Dave Black (Voce Communications / A Porter Novelli Company)
Director: Jeff Urquhart (Voce Communications / A Porter Novelli Company)
Media placement: Blog Post - - April 20, 2011

Summary of the Campaign
Gaming is all about authenticity. So what happens when you lose it? Can you ever get it back? Sony made a high-profile marketing mistake by launching a fake blog, ‘alliwantforxmasisapsp’ that was soon outed by gamers, industry followers and media. Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) had to quickly rebuild customer loyalty and trust in the PlayStation brand. The challenge was to make PlayStation credible and authentic again.

In this delicate environment, the team developed and launched blog.us.playstation.com/, a corporate and gaming community blog,

PlayStation.Blog rapidly became a credible hub for the entire PlayStation ecosystem. In 2012 PlayStation.Blog is one of the most active and highly-trafficked company blogs in the world, posting more than 2,500+ unique content items and receiving up to 4m unique visitors each month, and generating 1m+ page views and 20,000 comments every week.

SCEA has replicated the program globally. The blog drives significant revenue from its online store, and the community has grown from a team of 1 to nearly 40 worldwide.

The big test came in 2011, when SCEA was forced to take down the PlayStation network after a sophisticated hacking attack. The blog became the go-to resource for updates. PlayStation’s authenticity was intact.

The program has been widely recognised, winning Mashable's Best Corporate Blog award. What started as a way to re-establish authenticity after a marketing faux pas has grown into the communications foundation of everything that PlayStation does.

The Situation
SCEA launched PlayStation in 1995. By 2006 it had revolutionised gaming with the portable PSP, the PlayStation3 computer entertainment system, and the online PlayStation network, which allows 77m account holders to play, watch, stream, listen, chat and share the best in games, TV, movies, sports and music.

Even well-loved brands make mistakes. After a high-profile marketing faux pas -SCEA’s branding team launched a fake blog, ‘alliwantforxmasisapsp’ that was outed by game industry fans and media worldwide - SCEA had to rapidly rebuild trust in the PlayStation brand, and give it back its authenticity and credibility.

The Goal
The objectives of the program were:
• Quickly re-establish authenticity and trust in SCEA and PlayStation among the gaming community;
• Rebuild the credibility of and confidence in PlayStation;
• Maintain loyalty to PlayStation;
• Move forward decisively from the fake blog with a genuine, transparent online platform for dialogue.

The target audiences were gamers, game industry fans and commentators, and gaming and corporate journalists around the world.

The Strategy
SCEA's first move was to hold its hands up: "Busted. Nailed. Snagged. As many of you have figured out (maybe our speech was a little too funky fresh???), Peter isn't a real hip-hop maven and this site was actually developed by Sony. Guess we were trying to be just a little too clever. From this point forward, we will just stick to making cool products, and use this site to give you nothing but the facts on the PSP."

The team’s recommendation was that PlayStation could only rebuild its credibility through an authentic, credible dialogue on: blog.us.Playstation.com.

The team analysed opportunities for dialogue online, identified discussion trends and gaps. Content creation would include audio, video, photography, and artwork.

WordPress was used as the primary publishing platform along with ancillary services to augment content, including Flickr, Delicious, and Twitter, plus Mac and PC widgets.

Execution
The launch of PlayStation.Blog kicked off an ongoing program which included:
• Online influencer identification, outreach and engagement;
• Online reputation management;
• Community management, including moderation, facilitation and support;
• Content development;
• Media production and distribution;
• App development;
• Offline events (blogger lounges, meet-ups, influencer events).

The team custom-built a measurement methodology to track, measure and weigh the reach and influence of PlayStation.Blog, plus several WordPress plug-ins.

In April 2011 SCEA faced a massive test to its authenticity, when it announced a data breach and shut down the online PlayStation network for a period of time. The blog came into its own during the crisis, and became the go-to resource for updates on the network outage. Whether they visited the blog URL or subscribed through a social network or via RSS, it became, in a sense, the PlayStation wire service.

Documented Results
What started as a way of re-establishing trust after a marketing faux pas has grown into the communications foundation of everything that PlayStation does.

In 2012 PlayStation.Blog is among the most active company blogs in the world:
• 2,500+ unique content items each month;
• 1m+ page views and 20,000 comments every week;
• 3-4m unique visitors each month;
• 21m Facebook fans (7th largest worldwide);
• 1.2m Twitter followers (largest in gaming).

PlayStation.Blog has been widely recognised, including winning Mashable's Best Corporate Blog award.

Sony has replicated the program globally. The blog drives significant revenue from its online store, and the community has grown from a team of 1 to nearly 40 worldwide.

And when the blog’s credibility was tested by the network shutdown, it held up: within 2 weeks of the network returning live, traffic returned to 90% of pre-outage levels.

Authenticity isn’t a game.