A Sony executive recently declared that Marcus Rivers, the smartass 'tween flack for the PSP who debuted at E3 last year, delivered "positive sales effects," for the handheld. Near as I can tell, that's the first anyone's heard of the little twerp in more than four months.
Marcus still anchors the front of Sony's official PSP page. But he hasn't done a commercial for the device in six months. If Sony fake V.P. Kevin Butler has in fact called his sidekick into the conference room, patted him on the shoulder, slid a box of tissues over, explained COBRA and how to file for unemployment, etc., then it was a quiet severance after a boisterous couple of months over the summer.
Brought in to stop "good kids playing bad games," Marcus did plenty of shit-talking in a way most rational adults found grating but, I guess, resonated with the 12-to-14 year olds whom Sony wanted to target.
Scott McCarthy, a PlayStation senior brand manager, told IndustryGamers, the campaign was a success: "I think the Marcus campaign, and the PSP campaign in general, showed positive sales effects," he said. "When the consumers vote, they do so with their dollars, and we saw positive movement on the hardware side."
Pressed on what that meant, McCarthy had no hard figures to offer. "Not that I can get into," he said. Reminds me a little of this exchange.
In early September, John Koller, the PlayStation director of hardware marketing, told Ad Age that the PSP's rate of sales had climbed 20 percent week-over-week since Marcus was introduced in L.A. "Planning for more Marcus ads is already under way," Ad Age wrote.
The campaign's official YouTube channel suggests the ads pretty much stopped just before then. The last commercial spot featuring him went up on Aug. 18. A few web-only videos follow that, including what looks like an abortive attempt at a "Marcus Rivers Gaming Academy." series.
Although we weren't the object of this marketing campaign, bringing in wiseass children is inherently risky as a matter of taste. E*TRADE, for example, should get a marketing achievement award for making me want to punch a baby.
In the end, Marcus wasn't a straight foil for the bigger-than-life Kevin Butler, nor could he pull off KB's nuanced smarm. But Marcus does leave a legacy - "Lame Castle," a joke app based on one of his spots deriding mobile phone gaming.