While many lucky US gamers have been getting to grips with Sony's PlayStation 5 for days now, UK users have faced a painful extra week of waiting. The PS5 release day finally arrives in the UK tomorrow, and Sony today marked the occasion with an ingenious marketing stunt in central London.
Commuters were quick to spot that three of the four main entrances to Oxford Circus underground station have had their circular signs altered to represent the PlayStation's famous controller symbols. Perhaps even more striking than the best billboard ads, Sony has used a truly unexpected canvas for its latest iconic (or is that symbolic?) ad.
From one iconic shape to four. We’ve given the Oxford Circus Tube signs a #PS5 upgrade. 👀 pic.twitter.com/iw9qlEXR7BNovember 18, 2020
Three of the signs have been transformed to depict a square, triangle and cross in Sony's signature purple, green and blue colours. As for the fourth sign, well, Sony didn't have much work to do there – it's already a red circle. Indeed, we might never be able to look at the London Underground logo again without also seeing a PlayStation symbol (now that's what we call subliminal marketing).
Twitter users have been loving the stunt, with many sharing their own photos of the signs. And while Sony's London headquarters is just around the corner, it hasn't gone unnoticed that the Sony-fied tube signs are directly outside Microsoft's only UK store. (If you've been living under a rock, Microsoft's rival console was also released this month – here's where to buy an Xbox Series X.)
This is right outside Microsoft store for the PS5 launch in Oxford Circus TFL are violating Xbox😭💀 pic.twitter.com/3sbSpdf4MINovember 18, 2020
Oh hell yes, this is so fun!! Wish I could go stand in the middle of Oxford Circus and look at all 4 corners https://t.co/aNaq7cTCi6November 18, 2020
This is, in my very humble opinion, legit cool.Sony have partnered with Transport for London to install XO▢∆ at Oxford Circus Tube Station for the #PS5 UK Launch - plus some signage inside the station too (see thread) https://t.co/7ydi0T5oCuNovember 18, 2020
“Now at Oxford Circus. In front of the Microsoft store. TfL just said “eat shit Microsoft”.#PS5 #xbox #Advertising https://t.co/hX4V4YbGmpNovember 18, 2020
According to isleofwightradio (opens in new tab), the signs were created by Newport-based AJ Wells & Sons (opens in new tab) in "strict secrecy" over just two weeks. The illuminated enamel signs were "erected under the cover of darkness on Tuesday and will be on display for just 48 hours before it is game over". The signs will then be permanently displayed at Sony’s London headquarters.
While Microsoft has proven adept at responding to memes with recent marketing moves (including the creation of a genuine Xbox fridge), Sony's inventive tube signs might just be the best advertising stunt of the new gaming generation. If you're looking for more bold examples, our best print ads are bound to provoke a double-take or two (as is this confusing ketchup/makeup mashup from Rihanna).