written by: Hui Sze Tung, CTung

Sony launches PS4 Slim on September 15, along with the long-awaited video game, Persona 5, developed by renowned Japanese video game developer Atlus. A video commercial promoting the price drop of its new console is released at the same time. In the video, the Persona 5 protagonist rescues Ichiyō Higuchi, whose portrait is on a ¥5,000 banknote, to communicate a price reduction of ¥5,000 of PS4 Slim.

Dramatizing the price drop of PS4 Slim, Sony’s creative commercial is effective in increasing sales and enhance corporate image.

Hard-Sell Advertisements Do Not Necessarily Lack Creativity

For decades, there have been debates over hard-sell advertising and creativity. Using tactical price discount as the key message in the communication narrative is usually not a top-of-mind choice of many creatives’ minds. However, Sony may have proven them wrong this time.

The commercial’s message is simple and direct: the price of the redesigned PS4 has dropped to ¥29,980. This favorable price is mentioned repeatedly throughout the advertising jingle, with a catchy melody and humorous lyrics. Besides, the casting is equally fascinating. By impersonating the late Japanese author, Sony communicates clearly that each purchase of PS4 Slim can save one single Ichiyō Higuchi from confinement.

This creative and hard-sell commercial has won tremendous applause. Its original version has gathered over 1.9 million views and widely shared on social media. More importantly, the creative fulfils the ultimate purpose of advertising, to increase sales. The sales volume of PS4 Slim in Japan reaches 96,433 units in only one week after launch.


Sony Listens to Consumers’ Opinions

The price reduction of PS4 Slim is a strategic marketing decision. Sony wisely packages it as a response to consumers’ demand. Complaints over the high price of PS4 are explicitly mentioned in the commercial , citing that gamers are willing buy PS4 Slim “if the price is under ¥30,000”. Thus the Phantom Thief in Persona 5 saves Ichiyō Higuchi out from the console, and cut the price by ¥5,000.

The execution not only pleases the potential buyers by satisfying their demand, but also enhance the image of Sony as a “customer first” company.


Leave New Technical Feature Information of PS4 Slim Online

The use of price discount as the single-mind selling point for a functional product has drawn some critics though. They argue that the commercial does not introduce any new or superior functions or hardware features of PS4 Slim. To rational consumers of game players, the promotion appears not convincing enough, especially when they are struggling between the choice of PS4 Slim and Xbox One.

In fact, in the age of technology dominance, gamers rarely gather the detail features of a console from promotional commercials. In the consumer decision journey of tech-related products, rational consumers usually go through a lengthy evaluation process before purchase. Gamers, who are die-hard fans to RPG games, usually do their research online. Therefore, instead of including complex technology jargons in the commercial, it is more appropriate for Sony to optimize its publicity efforts through owned/paid/earned tech-review channels. More in-depth user/potential user dialogues are to be cultivated on various on-line channels. A single commercial can hardly include everything to satisfy all information needs.

In general, Sony’s commercial on PS4 Slim is bold and novel, with a sharp observation on gamers’ consumption behavior.