FOSTER CITY, CA: Sony Computer Entertainment America is finding that art is in the eye of the beholder.
To promote the PlayStation Portable (PSP), Sony recently launched a multi-faceted marketing campaign that included street art. The company hired local artists to paint characters playing with the PSP onto the sides of buildings in cities including New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
If reaction to the effort has been mixed, the press has bent an ear to those sharply critical of the enterprise, with the AP, among others, quoting groups like Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight, which called the art graffiti a crime. It was also widely reported that on December 28, Philadelphia MD Pedro Ramos faxed a cease-and-desist letter to Sony Computer Entertainment's US division in San Mateo, CA.
Sony has responded that it has done nothing wrong, pointing out that it went through the proper legal channels and has the proper permits, said Molly Smith, senior director of communications and brand development. The street art appears on buildings that might normally have a billboard, she added.
While the outcry has surprised Sony, the company sees no need for damage control.
"We stand by the campaign and the way we've executed it," said Smith. "We are responding to inquiries as they come in, and following up as quickly as possible."