PlayStation Lights Up the UK

If one were to look at the Oxo Tower in London at night over the past few days, they might notice a striking difference in the lighting of the prominent building.  Covering the side of the tower are the famous control buttons of the PlayStation brand that replaced the usual OXO that can be seen on the tower.  In regards to the holiday season and the release of their newest PlayStation 4 product, the brand decided to take their advertising to new heights. Sony paired with Manning Gottlieb OMD media agency to change the letters for the first time in the building’s eighty-five year history.


When relating this recent event to Kenneth Burke’s Theory of Identification, we can see a clear connection between the consumer’s ability to recognize the PlayStation symbols, and the persuasive technique used by the brand.  Burke’s theory states that persuasion can only be communicated effectively when the two parties (the consumer and the brand sharing the product) have something in common. This means that only people who know what the symbols represent will be able to understand that this is an advertisement for one of the largest gaming systems in the world.

This form of brand advertising seeks to create excitement and anticipation for the upcoming PS4 release on November 28th in the United Kingdom. Consumers are unconsciously motivated to have the PlayStation product on their minds when they see the symbols lit up every night.  This could lead to consumers talking about the product to friends or on social media or even purchasing the product when it is released.  In fact, 14.3 million people had tweeted about the lights within the first 24 hours that they were used.


Overall the strategy used by PlayStation to advertise and motivate their publics to think about this new product was a creative and original way to reach potential customers.  This is a method not commonly used and created a large amount of social media buzz that was beneficial to the brand.  What are some original and uncommon ways that you have seen brands advertise? Have you seen any brands advertise in uncommon places?

-Aaron Love, Kara Zimmerman, Rachel Clay, Rebecca Hobbs

26 thoughts on “PlayStation Lights Up the UK

  1. I find it really interesting that play station was allowed to do this. It is the first time in 85 years that the lights have been changed. However, this is a very clearer marketing tool. Not only is it timed perfectly with the release if their newest product but also it is hard to put an estimate on the thousands if not millions that will see this, not only in person but also through the use of social media. This is already grabbing a lot of attention and i’m sure will continue to through Facebook and Twitter. It is safe to say I have never seen this before and maybe this will open up a whole new type of advertising. Will they start lighting up our houses with their brand names soon?

  2. This marketing strategy is very unique and effective! I think its smart that the product is not directly being marketed to purchase, but more of a hidden advertisement to motivate people to buy it subconsciously. It was smart to try this marketing strategy on the OXO tower because it is an iconic landmark that everyone notices. The fact that the letters OXO have not been changed in over eighty years up until the PlayStation ad makes it even more noticeable. It forces people to think about the product and possibly purchasing it when it comes out.

  3. I think that form of advertising is awesome. Its interesting because I feel this is a double standard. I am tired of being bombarded with ads everywhere as a resident of the tri state area. Time square is just a hub for ads, from products to broadway shows, its everywhere. However I think this is a very elegant way to advertise. Its subtle but distinct. The promotion of Playstation is extremely creative that allows consumers to be receptive rather than turned off by it. I also have a personal biased because I believe Sony to be a better company than Microsoft and proud to see them showcased rather than the new X box.

  4. I agree, this is a very creative way to get loyal and new customers to notice the brand. When they put the infamous PlayStation control buttons on the side of the building I am sure that they enticed people to research why they did that. This allows PlayStation to advertise their new product with very little advertising. Brilliant idea!

  5. I think this is an extremely smart way to advertise and a very successful campaign. I know personally if I saw this on a building I would be very quick to get out my phone and snapchat it or instagram it! The fact that 14.3 million people had tweeted about the lights within the first 24 hours that they were used is incredible and shows how amazingly successful the campaign idea is. I do think it is very successful for our generation because we know what the 4 buttons on a PS controller are, however for many older generations the campaign may go completely un-noticed. This though is not all that important, because obviously the target market are the ones that are going to understand the symbols. Great idea I say!

  6. Wow! I have never once seen a company advertise in this way. As soon as I looked at the picture of the building, I automatically understood that it was the Playstation controller buttons. Although, I have barely played Playstation before, I recognize these controls because I have brothers who play it. Not everyone plays Playstation, but many people know what the controllers look like. They’re classic symbols.

    I can only imagine how much buzz this building created. Such an original idea, I’m blown away!

  7. In respect to the ongoing rivalry between the “new” Xbox One and the “new” Play Station 4, both Microsoft and Sony are looking to outbid the other. It appears that Sony has taken a leap of faith that video game consumers are “hiding” in plain sight. Anyone that has played a video game on a PlayStation platform that they own or a friend owns understands what those symbols on the building stand for. In today’s modern technologically advanced society, even if one didn’t know what the symbols were and wanted to find out, a simple tweet, or post about the lights would attract the attention of video game enthusiast. The question would be answered in more detail than would be needed I am sure, but rest assured the uninformed would no longer be in the dark. I applaud PlayStation for taking a risk, which based on their market research, I am sure, supported the marketing of a product that they hope will overtake the Xbox One by storm. It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks leading up to each systems release date if Microsoft does any similar marketing campaigns to keep the competitive spirit alive.

  8. This is a brilliant idea by Sony and they are getting publicity through social media like Twitter I think people will definitely consider buying the PS4 more because of this creative scheme.

  9. This is a really interesting ideal, but I think these great lengths playstation is turning towards to out sell xbox is quite humorous. I feel they are almost gambling with these massive advertising techniques that cost them millions of dollars just to get a higher opening in this next gen race. I don’t know why i immediately thought of the last south park episode when i saw this ad but im sure those of you who has watched it may have also referred to this episode in your mind.

  10. I personally think this is genius! Not only are they encouraging current gamers to go out and purchase the best new thing, but they are also intriguing those who may not know what the symbols reflected on this building mean. This is a win-win situation for them, because either way they are getting attention. In the process of such, word of mouth marketing is being spread all over. Whether it is because people are discussing getting the new Play Station, or because people simply want to point out the new symbols reflected on the building, it is an overall great way to promote your product.

  11. The utilization of London’s Oxo Tower creates a simple, yet very effective marketing strategy for the highly anticipated PlayStation 4 release. The use of the popular control buttons is not overwhelming like a giant billboard, but instead it is eye catching and brings something new to the advertising world of today. A vast majority of the PS4’s target market will easily recognize the lights as PlayStation control buttons and establish the connection of the lights to the upcoming release. Social media enables millions of people all around the world to see Sony’s original, yet unique marketing strategy that will continue to increase anticipation for the PS4 release just in time for the holiday season.

  12. I like that they’re performing in marketing in this way. I must say, they invite a lot of criticism from Microsoft and the like by having a sort of console war this large scale. It is enticing to think that video games have gotten this huge, but I must argue that PS3 and X-Box users are no less bound to BUY a PS4, as in change their behavior, because of this stunt. In fact, I would think that this stunt would cost more than the total cost of the idea that they had for new prospective purchasers of PS4 gear. Therefore not a good ROI….

  13. I think this is a wonderful way of marketing! If I saw this building I would tweet it or instagram a picture, and 14.3 million people tweeted about it. By doing the control buttons, the customers would recognize it right away and understand the upcoming release of the new playstation. Playstation is marketing in a different way and getting more coverage about it will ultimately help the competition with other gaming devices.

    Erin Fouhy

  14. Wow, this is an phenomenal way to advertise. As a previous player of PlayStation, I immediately recognized the lights as the buttons to the game controller. I think that other gaming companies would be jealous that they didn’t think of this first. Yes, it is a costly investment, but PlayStation has been running well for a long time and it did spark hype not only in PlayStation users, but the people of London. If someone did not know what those symbols meant, it could potentially spark an interest or curiosity and once again, PlayStation wins. This marketing strategy is different than anything many companies have thought of and better yet be able to use. Thinking to another company that has different marketing strategies, I think of the company “Truth” which shows the truth about smoking and they do it in weird ways to the public and film it. Interesting enough, certain marketing strategies are available only to certain companies. Overall, thank you for the read!! It was an eye opener!

  15. I think this is a great move by Sony. First of all, the fact that the lights on the tower have not been changed in 85 years automatically brings attention to the Playstation symbols on it. Second, whether you know what the Playstation buttons look like, when you see that the lights have been changed you will take notice. If you are not aware that the new lights are the Playstation buttons you will most likely look it up which just brings more awareness and attention to Playstation.

  16. This is a brilliant idea. I understand that Burke’s Theory of Identification states that there is a need of connection and underlying understanding to identify, but this will spread to so many more people than only the ones who know what the playstation controller buttons are. This will spur countless conversations that will most likely start with something as simple as “Did you see the Tower?” And if someone has no idea what those symbols mean, it will be explained. It creates curiosity in people who do not know what the symbols are because it is on such a large scale.The production of curiosity to people who do not currently know what the Playstation symbols are is the most genius part of this advertising strategy.

  17. I believe that brands should advertise in uncommon places. In my opinion that seems like the most beneficial place to advertise because their audience is not expecting it, causing you to think about their product even more than you would if you saw the PS4 logo at a Game Stop. The advertising technique caused a huge buzz and that is not surprising when you have it on a huge building, of course people are going to be talking about it. I see it as a very effective way to advertise and I believe, through original it is outside of the box. I do not even play on gaming systems and I knew what the logo was which is kind of incredible how advertising can teach us and familiarize us with things that we do not even use. With a product as expensive as a gaming system, I feel that it is necessary to pull the trigger on big add campaigns, especially since you can predict from other PS gaming system sales that this one is going to be profitable, why not?

  18. This marketing tactic that playstation creatively executed I think was a very successful way to alarm consumers about the excitement of releasing their new product. The way they approached this actually changed history for the Oxo tower which sounds like a huge deal. Playstation executed word of mouth basically across the world with this technique. This time of year people are frantically purchasing multiple products for the holidays and such so this was a professionally planned and executed advertisement. Although there has already been scandals about the play station 4 they have already successfully completed positive word of mouth before they’re sales have hindered from negative word of mouth. This is one of the most creative advertising techniques I have heard of in a while and it is obvious because it has reached to America all the way from Europe. Another creative marketing technique I can think of used by another brand would be Red Bull and how they sponsored a man to jump out of a space shuttle to land on earth. Other than this example these are both extreme marketing techniques used that are obviously successful.

  19. I think that this marketing strategy is brilliant by PlayStation. They are using a rather simple method to raise awareness for their brand new product that will definitely be a hot commodity over during the gift giving season. Their buttons are well recognized and even if someone did not recognize them it will lead them to question it which will ultimately raise awareness. the role social media plays is also a huge aspect of this project because now not only will people in london see it but it can be posted on a multitude of sites where it can be seen worldwide. I think this was a great idea and that they will find that this plan was very successful for their product.

  20. PlayStation has done a really remarkable job here, utilizing a source that most would never have thought of. We all have seen large signs on even larger buildings before, but never in a way quite like this. Even to someone who doesn’t play video games, such myself, can readily recognize what these symbols mean. Hats off to the PlayStation marketing team!

  21. With the release of the new Playstation, I have seen a lot of advertisements and heard a lot of talk about it, but until now I had no idea that there was an entire building dedicated to promoting this product. If you ask me, it’s a cool idea, but seems like kind of a big step to take (to change the sign on the building after decades of having the original sign up) just to promote this new system. The only other times I have seen advertising in strange places would probably be the product placement so often seen in movies and tv shows now. I cannot get used to actors and actresses in the stories I love wave around a coke bottle or very obviously get into a Volvo. It is distracting to me and takes away from the story, but there isn’t much I can do about that. In terms of the building though, at least this symbol is one that people can recognize as a representation of their brand.

  22. I think this a cool concept to get the buzz going of the new release. It is like the batman symbol being displayed in Gotham City. Every kid around the world knows both the gaming systems XBOX and Play Station exist. Their parents know about them because every kid most likely has asked for one of the two gaming consoles for Christmas this year. Some adults walking on the street might not know what those symbols displayed on the building are unless they’ve played Play Station. This publicity stunt may look cool but it will not detour or increase sales for the new console. Gamers are into the specific details of the units. They want to know what each one offers. It’s a billion dollar market and the people that buy them want to be assured that they are getting their monies worth. I’ve seen commercials on both consoles and they are catchy but I want to know the comparisons in price and value of each console before making a decision. Only time will tell which console will emerge as #1 in gaming.

  23. I decided to comment on this blog post because it is something many people in college can relate to. While PS4 is coming out, along with the new XBOX ONE, it is the classic effort of how one brand is trying overcome its opponents by reaching out into new areas, on how to get their brand out there. In a recent movie we watched in IMC called The Persuaders, a decent portion in the movie explained how brands are beginning to think outside of the box, and change the game of advertising. The PS4 effort on the tower is a great and very persuading advertising technique, which to me will prove very successful when it is released. I wonder if XBOX ONE will come out with unique and new ways to counteract this technique that PS4 pursued. Awesome blog post!!

  24. This is the first time I have seen a gaming advertisement in such grand of a scale. I think it is a great play off of the original OXO sign and you definitely cannot miss it. This is a great move on Playstation’s part since the Xbox One has been released around the same time and they are in direct competition.

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