In its native Japan, the PS3 Slim ad machine is kicking into high gear with a slick campaign. Yet, as with many past Sony promotions, this one is already drawing controversy.
Titled "Play Face", the campaign pays homage (rips off?) to artist Phillip Toledano's series of video game photographs of gamers' O-face. About his original photos, Toledano said this, "I wanted to take portraits of people that would reveal a hidden part of their character. So I had them play video games."
We don't know if Toledano is actually involved in this PS3 Slim ad campaign or if Sony is simply inspired by it. However, we have contacted him to find out.
On the Japanese internet, the more distressing choice is the number of celebrities featured with well-known, rumored (former and/or current) drug problems. Of course, these are "rumored" drug problems, and people on the Japanese internet are saying this. What's more, the campaign does feature a large number of celebs. (Law of averages, anyone?)
Included in the campaign is the brilliant actor Yosuke Kubozuka who in 2004 jumped from his 9th floor condo, surviving an 85-foot fall. It was dubbed an "accident", but there were rumors that it was a suicide attempt and of Kubozuka's heavy drug use. His career has never been the same.
Above is 45-year-old DJ and "media creator" Tsuyoshi Takashiro. The rumors of his drug use are most likely connected to his career as a DJ.
Japanese actor Arata has had a hugely successful film career even with persistent rumors of drug use.
Mixed martial arts fighter and kickboxer Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto came under fire after being involved in marijuana parties.
In the West, drug use among celebrities is almost expected, and perhaps people are surprised when famous folks don't use. That's not the case in Japan, where being arrested for drug use can be career ending. Talent agencies are known to drop clients for underage cigarette smoking, so drugs are inconceivable to many fans. The Japan equivalent of, say, Brad Pitt would not get on television and talk about smoking hash with Quentin Tarantino. That's just not done in Japan. It's a no-no.
(However, male stars who are picked up on drug charges do have an easier time re-entering the entertainment business than female ones.)
Another point to note: In Japan, there is no difference between "soft drugs" and "hard drugs". If a member of folk classic rock band The Happy End is picked up for weed, it is no different under law and in the eyes of most Japanese as when former idol Noriko Sakai admits to smoking meth. Drugs are drugs.
The problem with these Play Face ads is that by featuring celebrities with rumored drug problems in a state of gaming ecstasy, many Japanese cannot help but draw a drug connection — not exactly the image Sony Japan is going for, eh?