(Featured Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment)
It’s 1995. Girl group TLC is warning you about chasing waterfalls, Beevis and Butt-head are up to their slacker shenanigans on MTV, and the PlayStation one is about to be released in the U.S. It was a different time and honestly the start of what would become one of the greatest eras of gaming. Oh, and Sony for some reason had an ad for the PlayStation that noted it as “…It’s More Powerful Than God…”
I won’t say that edgy marketing first started in the 90s, as it is a tactic as old as advertising itself. As a 90s kid, I will say that it was the era that I was the target of these ads, and man… they could get out of hand. From the original Tomb Raider series making it clear that the game was not for kids with raunchy ads reminding you that Lara Croft has breasts, to every vaguely violent game wanting me to know just how much the adults in my life didn’t want me playing it. Sometimes I look back at that time, and alongside the deep cringe, I think of how whimsically try hard it was as well.
The Horrifying Entity Known as Polygon Man
While the PlayStation console family is well known for using its exclusive games’ main characters as mascots, in the time leading up to the PlayStation One launch, Sony used Polygon Man.
He was the original mascot for the Sony PlayStation. Polygon Man would make weird comments about the console’s launch titles meant to be vaguely insulting and threatening to the reader while also being bizarre. So, you know, the perfect ad.
It was during this marketing campaign when Edge Magazine allegedly made the bold claim of “…It’s More Powerful Than God…” in regards to the PlayStation, something that Sony seemed to take in stride. Sony paired the quote with Polygon Man and a long text advert that explained that PlayStation One game devs were chained to their desks.
And a weirdly iconic ad was born!
May I be as confident in all my endeavors
Now, again it was a weird era for ads, one we may focus on in a future article. The PlayStation was being marketed to teens and those fictional 90s hackers that never really existed outside of movies. Bucking the system, parents, and school, was meant to be appealing. But for an ad to be that brazen in its edge was a bit of a shock. In my research into the quote I have been unable to track down who exactly said it or confirm what issue of Edge Magazine it was printed in, but more knowledgeable people in terms of gaming history confirm it was a thing, sharing pictures from Polygon Man’s ads as well as personal pictures of the print ad. Additionally, I can’t find any mentions of backlash for the statement. No groups bothered, no protests and no news pundits attacking the company. But being a person who has, you know, met other people before, there is no way there wasn’t some reaction. I just have to make the calculated guess that in the days of the early internet, it was likely small and no one recorded it. Again, this isn’t confirmed, just me making a guess.
Well, How Powerful Did It Turn Out To Be?
I don’t know. Crash Bandicoot was pretty fun. Oh, and of course Megaman Legends 1 & 2.
What was the fate of Polygon Man?
In recent years Polygon Man has had a bit of a resurgence as he appears as the final boss of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Since then my childhood nightmare has become wider know and he has entered that weird part of nostalgia that is attractively horrifying.
Overall maybe don’t have edgy ads? That just feels like a pretty solid move to not seem like you are trying too hard. That, and no scrubs. The timeless wisdom of TLC has passed on to us all.
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The Playstation was targeting 20-somethings. At least that’s where its focus in the UK was. Hence it’s poorly veiled drug reference advertising, perforated (for roaches) flyers handed out at dance clubs/raves and Playstation Rooms in select clubs around the country.
And from what I’ve read, Edge magazine never gave that quote. I do however have every issue of the magazine so may find the time to read through those early issues covering the PS.
But seriously, the original Playstation was way too cool to be targeted at teens.