Pick of the Week: PlayStation’s masterful film shows advertising has no limits either

A game of chess is just the starting point for a story rich in visual and narrative reward.

PlayStation: which king will prevail?
PlayStation: which king will prevail?

Some ads work because they contain a simple motif, image or phrase that lodges in your brain straight away and won’t let go. They’re the kind of ads that ordinary people often profess to dislike, though might grudgingly admit are pretty effective.

And then there are ads that work because they're simply a joy to watch over and over again, with each viewing offering something new. Adam & Eve/DDB has been among the masters of this kind of work for years, not least with its festive John Lewis campaigns, and this latest work for PlayStation is another triumph.

The idea to use chess as the basis for the story here might have been inspired in part by its on-trend status, helped along by the popularity of the (overrated, sorry) Netflix drama The Queen’s Gambit – as well as the lockdown chess habit of Edward Usher, who created the campaign with Xander Hart.

But it works so well because of its ancient presence in culture, and its universally tropes and metaphoric potential.

On top of this, the creative and production team has layered a fantastic visual scheme, apparently packed with references to games franchises – most of which you need to be more of a hardcore gamer than me to recognise – plus the kind of blockbuster-esque action sequences you don’t often see in ads. This feels like an idea that has genuine potential for a feature-length adaption – or perhaps better still, a playable version.

Brand PlayStation
Title Play has no limits
Agency Adam & Eve/DDB
Created by Xander Hart and Edward Usher
Director Francois Rousselet
Production company Riff Raff

Topics