Sony withdraws potentially racist Dutch billboards

LONDON - Sony has pulled a controversial billboard ad campaign for the new version of its Play Station Portable console that has been widely condemned as racist.

The poster ad, which Sony says was launched in the first week of June and created by TBWA/Brussels for the Dutch market, showed an intimidating white woman aggressively grabbing the face of a black woman with the tagline "PlayStation Portable. White is coming".

Sony said the campaign intended to highlight the colour contrast between the white ceramic PSP and the black version and was not meant to evoke racist connotations.

However, the image invited consumer and press criticism that Sony used the photo to sell a product and recalled an age and time when black people were portrayed as lesser to white people.

Sony has now withdrawn the campaigns and apologised. A spokesperson said: "We recognise that the subject matter of one specific image may have caused concern in some countries not directly affected by the advertising. As a result, we have now withdrawn the campaign."

In a separate bout of controversy, last month Sony's ads for the launch of its PSP hand-held escaped a ban by the ad watchdog after racking up almost 50 complaints, despite accusations that the ads were offensive, sexist and encouraged anti-social behaviour.

The ads, also created by TBWA, this time from its London offices, featured a number of executions of red headlines on a white background with lines such as "your girlfriend's white bits here", which received complaints from the UK public.

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