Play corrupts and game play corrupts totally

Earlier this week, the legal actions of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) apparently forced Lik-Sang.com to shut down. There has been soul searching in some quarters about Sony’s conduct, particularly with regards the number of senior executives how had bought grey-market devices for ‘investigative purposes’ allegedly.Rather than have people rattling around online, I thought that I would suggest some practical ways to respond in a responsible manner and explain to SCEE that they didn’t appreciate the company’s conduct.

I started by revisting a post I had written over two years ago for the AlwaysOn Network following articles I had read about Wal-Mart. It has some good rules of engagement in italics:

Stop bellyaching saying how terrible they are. If you have money you have a choice; use it. If you have a fair bit of money you also have a voice; use it.

– Don’t be abusive to company staff. These are people who are trying to get by; the last thing they need is some stuck-up righteous person going off at them. Be polite and courteous at all times – even to senior management.

– Consumers – don’t buy the company’s products and services. If you don’t buy, they will go away or change to behave in a ‘more acceptable’ manner. Its the laws of supply and demand, you cut off their supply of money, they’ll be more ameniable to respond to your suggestions for improvement.

– Do talk to your friends and peers about the benefits of rival ways of shopping. For a listed retail company, there is nothing more terrifying than a decreasing amount of money going through the tills.

There is nothing more powerful according to some of the world’s leading marketers like Richard Edelman than word-of-mouth marketing. That’s the reason why even mobile phones have blogs nowadays.

If you have bought a Wii and or your XBox360 tell everyone how good it is. If you are in Currys or Comet and someone is looking at the PS3 or a PSP, tell them how rocking your Wii, DS or video iPod is. If a Wii or XBox360 demo kiosk has fallen over , get a member of staff to reset it. Mac users have been doing this for years, its known in the industry as evangelisation.

– Focus on one message, there seems to be a myriad of issues that people have with Wal-Mart, however like advertising if you repeat just one message enough times it is more likely to get through to the public psyche and the board of the company. When they have listened to that focus on the next one.

In this case, I’d recommend expressing displeasure at the company’s ‘regional apartheid’ against European gamers. It’s a phrase that is loaded with imagery and emotion and makes a great media soundbite.

– Think about your message, phrase it in terms of the benefit to the audience. For instance, a politician who voices an opposition to the company may benefit from more votes and individual campaign contributions. Basic Dale Carnegie stuff but very true.

– Hound special interest groups like ‘Greenpeace’ and ‘Friends of the Earth’ telling them to readjust their priorities, you’ll need to be polite and very persistent because they usually have pretty thick skins since they give it out so much.

Greenpeace is very interested in electronic waste at the moment., here is a link to their report on Sony. I found it particularly interesting that I couldn’t find any information from SCEE on their website about their environmental record or what they are doing to limit e-waste. Why not send an email to Greenpeace and ask them to take action?

– Learn from the way political campaigns have co-opted the web and get active using meet-up.com, web blogs etc

– Write, email, call the company’s share register, their auditors, their PR agency and their bank of record. Be polite, courteous, persistent and humourous (if you can be) to deliver your message and do it often.

  • SCEE Email addresses are usually of the form: firstname_lastname@scee.net
  • There is a feedback page here.
  • The company press office email address

– Don’t deviate from non-violent action. It’s not cool and its not clever, it is counter-productive to your argument. Over here in the UK, the anti-vivisectionist movement have lost a lot of public goodwill by using violence and intimidation

– Vitriol is not clever, stick to the facts. To an outside audience your vitriol will lack credibility. That is why some of the empassioned anti-Bush protests have little effect (ya’ feelin me Howard Dean?).

– Do not violate the company’s intellectual property including trade marks. That funny piece of satire that you put up as a website, wont be seen by too many people because your web host provider or ISP will take it down if they get a letter from the company’s lawyers.

There is nothing more frustrating to a company than not being able to do anything about its reputation, SCEE is especially vulnerable at the present time as it is in the midst of changing UK PR agencies. The company will struggle to respond to sustained criticism where it cannot bring legal pressure to bear.

– Suppliers – if the company knocks on your door wanting you to supply them. Send them on instead to the competitor you most want to see ran out of business.

– If you want to put your money where you’re mouth is, make sure the company’s stock isn’t in your 401K

– Write to your mutual fund manager, write to your politicians

– Write to your local newspaper.

Post on the forums that you read, put a link to this posting for any people that are interested.

– Don’t give up, its only by repetition and determination that campaigns suceed