Culture Jam Assignment

This is an advertisement by Sony in 2006, advertising the new white colour of their entertainment system, the PlayStation Portable. Though it has been eleven years since the ad and has since been long forgotten by most, the ad recently made headlines in April of this year, as a tweet on Twitter went viral in the wake of Kendall Jenner’s infamous, and heavily slandered Pepsi ad.

The ad features a strong, dominant white woman grabbing and overpowering a weaker and submissive black woman. The background is also black in contrast of the white woman, in order to have her stand out. The black woman is arguable also blending into the background. Clearly, it is stating that the white colour of the console is stronger and “better” than the black colour. The metaphor is not only racist, but also promotes white supremacy. The mental image of a submissive black person alongside a dominating white person is one we are all familiar with; it is a reference to the abuse black people have faced at the hands of white people throughout history.

In order to sell the new colour of an already released console, Sony’s main marketing scheme was to show that white is a “better” colour than their previous released colour of black. It is unclear on which market Sony was specifically targeting. It could have been towards people who had already owned a black version, or to new potential buyers. In any case, at first glance, it does not even appear to be an advertisement for a game console. When the audience first looks at the ad, they first see the two models. Meanwhile, the main tagline of the ad, “PSP white is coming”, is in the bottom left corner – a place where our eyes do not fall upon in the first glance.

Here, we have a culture jammed version of the same advertisement. Using my Photoshop skills, I attempted to erase the superior white complex from the original advertisement. The market I had in mind while designing this was towards people who had already owned a black version. Alternatively, it could also attract potential new buyers into purchasing a white version to compliment a black one that a friend or significant other had already purchased. I feel that it still targets the markets that I suspect Sony was targeting as previously mentioned. The difference is that I erased the white superiority problem.

Keeping Sony’s human race metaphor for the two colours of the PlayStation Portable, I decided to Photoshop the models into an embrace, with an implied romance. I also added a second slogan, “Perfect Together”. It now shows an interracial couple being close with each other, and the metaphorical meaning has shifted. A thing to note is how different the message of an advertisement can be depending on how one handles diversity. Sony’s original ad could have been considered as “diverse” when including the two minorities (people of colour and women), but unfortunately, the way the ad was structured and the message it conveyed failed to check off any boxes. In my culture jammed version, I have now turned the same women into what I feel, is a much better representation of both women and women of colour. The ad now implies the two women being in harmony, and acting as a compliment to each other rather than the white woman being superior. I found that having the two women being in an implied relationship is also added representation to the severely underrepresented LGBT community.