From a bar full of gaming characters raising a toast to their benevolent master, to a flying severed arm and a talking duck from none other than David Lynch himself, Sony's console marketing has never been afraid to deliver the unexpected. We've raided the archives and looked back through 20 years of promos to bring you the best television adverts in PlayStation history.
In 2011 Sony launched a campaign called ‘Long Live Play’, the main part of which was this brilliant ad. A who’s-who of PlayStation stars – Snake, Kratos, Nathan Drake, Sackboy, even the likes of Needles Kane from Twisted Metal – all meet in a tavern and pay tribute to ‘Michael’, who it turns out is a gamer who helped them all avoid danger. Watch it (opens in new tab)
Sony decided the best way to promote the PS3 was to terrify the entire planet. The result was this ad, featuring a baby doll crying backwards tears and laughing a deep, maniacal cackle as a PS3 starts levitating. Though it’s not clear how possessed dolls were supposed to sell a console, we still have nightmares to this day. Watch it (opens in new tab)
One of PlayStation’s earliest TV commercials in the UK, the S.A.P.S. (Society Against PlayStation) ad was designed to look like a public service announcement warning gamers of the powerful effects of Sony’s first console. “It may look like a harmless bagel toaster,” the spokesperson warns, “but inside is a deadly doughnut.” Watch it (opens in new tab)
For a while Sony had a habit of enlisting famous directors to make ads. This classic British one was the work of Chris Cunningham, who’d made music videos for Aphex Twin and Madonna. Its freaky alien girl was actually a Scottish actress called Fiona MacLaine with all manner of morphing effects applied to add extraterrestrial oomph. Watch it (opens in new tab)
What started as a comedy Sony spokesperson promoting MLB 09: The Show on PS3 ended up becoming one the funniest series of PlayStation ads. Kevin Butler (actually actor Jerry Lambert) eventually starred in no fewer than 34 ads, promoting everything from EyePet to the PlayStation Move. We salute you, VP of Brilliant TV Bants. Watch it (opens in new tab)
Welcome To The Third Place
PlayStation ads and bizarre imagery go hand-in-hand, and there’s no better auteur of odd than David Lynch. His PS2 ad featured the likes of a man with a duck’s head, a distorted mummy, a severed arm and a protagonist whose head detaches from its body for no reason. Um, buy a PlayStation 2, folks! Watch it (opens in new tab)
Not only the greatest PlayStation ad, but the finest gaming commercial ever. Double Life was made in the UK and shows a variety of different punters of all shapes and sizes explaining how, when playing PlayStation, they do things not possible in real life. “Though I’ve lived a double life,” it ends, “at least I can say I’ve lived.” All the feels. Watch it (opens in new tab)
What better way to tell the king of platforming you’ve arrived than to turn up at his castle unannounced? That’s what Sony did to promote Crash Bandicoot when it sent a chap in costume to Nintendo’s HQ in Washington. Standing in the car park, he taunted Mario through a loudspeaker before a guard asked him to leave. Watch it (opens in new tab)
#4ThePlayers Since 1995
To celebrate the PS4 launch, Sony UK put together this incredible ad showing a gamer’s bedroom evolving over the course of 18 years. As the years pass and he goes through the PS1, PS2, PS3 and finally PS4, you can see his fashion sense, TV style, friendships and music posters changing as well. Watch it (opens in new tab)
This article originally appeared in Official PlayStation Magazine. For more great PlayStation coverage, you can subscribe here (opens in new tab).