Profile: Console freak - David Wilson, head of UK PR, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

David Wilson, the man charged with promoting Sony's PlayStation brand to gamers across Britain, is one of the industry's more reluctant communicators. Despite having racked up more than a decade in PR, the 39-year-old former journalist still admits he 'would be more comfortable' saying he was 'editor of a games magazine' than admitting to being a PR man.

Although an evangelist for all things PlayStation, he is an unremitting apologist whenever he makes an overly on-message observation. Interviewed in his sixth-floor Soho office, to which he commutes on a 40-year-old Lambretta, he asks to withdraw a quote including the word 'synergies' - and prefaces PlayStation plugs with comments such as 'all the usual caveats that must go with me saying these things' or 'sorry, that's a horrible quote'.

Sony is currently gearing up for the spring UK launch of its handheld console PlayStation Portable (PSP). PR offensives loom, too, for games such as Gran Turismo 4 ('Absolutely stunning. I play it until the early hours - but I'm paid to say that'), while May's E3 trade show in Los Angeles is likely to see the unveiling of details on PlayStation 3.

A 'comprehensive' PR plan is in place for the PSP and the key, Wilson says, is 'acceptance in certain circles'. Sony, he says, will continue to position itself as 'aspirational' and an 'innovator'.

The fact Wilson is wary of falling into PR patter is, perhaps, unsurprising given his background. He studied social policy and administration at Exeter University and then worked at the British Safety Council and, of all places, a Tampax factory, before Your Sinclair magazine and Zero Magazine.

He was poached by California-based video games maker Electronic Arts (EA), starting as affiliate PR manager before becoming head of European PR.

In 2000 he joined Sony to 'launch a new hardware platform (PlayStation 2), and take on bigger budgets and a bigger challenge - also, my daughter had just been born and it suited me not to be racking up so many air miles'.

Wilson, who grew up in Bridgend, Wales, and now lives with his partner and two kids in Shepherd's Bush, is a 'petrolhead' who loves vintage cars.

He is, apparently, something of a showman - when he left EA he floated round its UK HQ's ornamental lake on a lilo in a Hawaiian shirt.

Wilson also has 'a lovely singing voice', according to Al King, a former EA colleague and now 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment marketing director.

More seriously, King adds: 'David is very understanding of the plight of the journalist - he understands deadlines and such like; he champions their cause internally.'

Little of Wilson's day-to-day role now involves media relations but he does get involved with crisis comms, such as when the Daily Mail last year ran the headline 'Murder by PlayStation' over a games-cause-violence story. What does he make of such coverage? 'It's their job and I don't bear ill will,' he says.'It annoys me more when people misreport things or get facts wrong.'

The game about which that story was written, Manhunt, is also available on PC or Microsoft Xbox - but the fact PlayStation was picked out 'harks back to us being the Man United of video-games publishers', he protests.

Such is PlayStation's strength as a brand it has now effectively become a descriptor for a generation - both positive (technologically savvy) and negative (physically lazy).

Wilson says the EyeToy, which allows people to appear on screen and interact with game characters, is Sony's 'best weapon' in its defence against critics who accuse games firms of creating a sedentary generation. PlayStation is, he points out, developing physical exercise title EyeToy Kinetic, alongside Nike Motionworks, to launch in the UK later this year.

Wilson's enjoyment ('Don't say love, it sounds sycophantic') at working for PlayStation clearly owes to genuine interest in the products, as opposed to any lifelong zeal for PR. This, though, arguably makes him all the more credible when promoting his passion.


1989 Various editorial roles

Your Sinclair 1990 Deputy editor, Zero Magazine

1991 Editor, Zero Magazine

1992 Affiliate PR manager, Electronic Arts

1995 Head of European PR, Electronic Arts

2000 Head of UK PR, PlayStation/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

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