When you’re trying to push a video game system as a holiday gift item, the last thing you want is for people to associate your product with misleading claims and the objectification of women, but it’s been that kind of week for Sony, who just agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over advertisements from 2012.
The Federal Trade Commission accused Sony Computer Entertainment America and its ad agency, Deutsch LA, on Tuesday of deceiving the public in ads and tweets for the launch of the PlayStation Vita handheld gaming console.
Deutsch and Sony agreed to settle the case, with Sony paying consumers what could top more than $750,000 in cash and buyer credits. Buyers of Vita will get the choice of $25 in cash or $50 in credit towards Sony purchases.
For the first time, the FTC pointed to tweet endorsements as the reason for making a deception complaint. The FTC said Deutsch’s ads for Vita were deceiving and accused the ad agency of illegally hiding that its employees’ “endorsement” tweets touting Vita were sponsored messages.
Besides those tweets, Sony also got heat from the FTC for some of the boasts that their ads made about the PS Vita at launch.
The FTC said the remote feature ad the cross platform features weren’t available for many games, the advertised pause feature either wasn’t available at all or only at certain times, and that Sony misled consumers by not making it clear that to switch between consoles, consumers had to buy two versions of the same game — one for each.
According to Engadget, only those PS Vita owners who purchased their systems prior to June 1, 2012 are eligible for the payout.
Speaking of that payout, while this is an embarrassing moment for Sony and their ad agency, is that embarrassment and the relatively low sum of $750,000 enough to dissuade other companies from echoing the same kinds of boasts and participating in the same kind of behavior in the future? I’m not sure, but this is certainly a reminder to all consumers that they should do their due diligence before they make any big purchase.