These old PlayStation ads turned our brains into mush

In light of the newest, and uncharacteristically benign PS5 ad, we revisited some of the worst Sony commercials to ever affront screens and billboards.

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Sony recently released its first-ever live-action ad for the PlayStation 5. Though the ad itself is nothing to write home about (it spends a minute or so pitching the company's new haptic controller and 3D audio) by Sony's standards, forgettable may be a good thing.

The gaming giant has a long and sometimes cringe-worthy history of promoting its PlayStation consoles (and the PSP) with some questionable ad campaigns. And in spite of our better judgment...

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Here are some of the worst PlayStation ads ever...

In no particular order.

The baby

Some of you may remember when Sony seemingly tried to scare us into wanting to buy the PlayStation 3. And not even the "buy this console, or else" kind of scare. We're talking full-on goosebumps, cold sweat, and insomnia kind of spooky.

This ad is actually one of several unsettling campaigns from Sony. One of our personal favorites is this one directed by David Lynch (yes, that David Lynch).

The "portable Nut"

On the polar opposite end of the spectrum, there's Sony's "portable nut" campaign for its first-ever handheld, the PSP. It's a rare mix of obnoxious and nonsensical and the worst part of the ad is that it was actually kind of effective. What we wouldn't give to delete this ad campaign from the old mind palace.

The porn stars

Somewhere, during an ad agency brainstorm circa 2006 a team of admen (and we say "men" here for a reason) decided that the adage "sex sells" should also apply to Sony's marketing efforts for the PlayStation 2. Thus, multiple ads featuring "porn stars" were born. See also: golfers vs porn stars in this mind-boggling nature documentary spoof.

The Sexism

Porn stars aren't Sony's only attempt to sell its consoles with sex. The company also launched this bizarre and pretty sexist ad to promote the PS Vita, its successor to the PSP. We'll let the ad, which was removed after some backlash, speak for itself.

The "Serious Butt"

There's actually plenty to love about this early PlayStation One ad. Its blown out, static-y visuals and cuts full of discordant background noise give the whole thing a sort of punk-ish vibe that no doubt set it apart from other game companies. But (no pun intended) it's the narration that earns this ad a spot on the list.


“Ok we've got good news and bad news: the good news is these games kick serious butt, the bad news is... You're the butt.”

An awful PlayStation ad

The racism

Arguably the worst one of all is this racist PSP billboard alerting the public that "white is coming." The controversial ad ran in the Netherlands in 2006 and depicts a White woman gripping a Black person by the face. Sony's lack of response to backlash also left something to be desired.

“Whilst the images used in the campaign were intended solely to highlight the contrast between the different colors available for the PSP, we recognize that the subject matter of one specific image may have caused concern in some countries not directly affected by the advertisement.”

Sony Computer Entertainment of Europe, 2006


The socket

In defiance of all that is evergreen, an ad for the PlayStation 3 for consumers in Japan used a subtle (potentially too subtle) visual cue to reveal the console's release date. If you weren't able to spot the date in this ad, we'll give you a hint... It's 11/11.

This list isn't to suggest that Sony doesn't have some memorably great ads as well. Who could forget the titular Crash Bandicoot looking to roil some fisticuffs outside of "Nintendo's office"?

But the fact remains: when you play the splashy ad game, you win some and you lose some.


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