Sony has admitted that a brilliantly terrible marketing blog masquerading as the personal website of two semi-literate youngsters is in fact a brilliantly terrible marketing blog masquerading as the personal website of two semi-literate youngsters.
The blog - alliwantforxmasisapsp.com - was designed as a sort of incubator for viral marketing, aimed at convincing people that a) the PSP is a desirable Christmas gift that all the cool kids want, and b) that it's cool and all your friends will like you if you plaster the town in printable adverts and iron PSP transfers onto your t-shirts.
Understandably, it found very little success on either front.
Instead, it became a magnet for the sort of Internet revolt typically directed at comments about Gears of War that don't include the words "pledge" and "soul". Crowds grew in the comment threads, where people uncovered the fact that it was made by a marketing company called Zipatoni, one of whose staff bore curious resemblance to a man seen on the website posing in a home-made PSP t-shirt.
Others focused on the hilarious nature of the site's content, which was written in a mixture of "leetspeak" and "smacktard". "i (charlie) have a psp. my friend jeremy does not. but he wants one this year for xmas," fake authors "c&j" wrote, "so we started clowning with sum not-so-subtle hints to j's parents that a psp would be teh perfect gift. we created this site to spread the luv to those like j who want a psp!" As one reader put it, "FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. YOUTH SYNTAX ERROR."
It didn't help Zipatoni's attempts to remain undercover that some genius decided to block off the use of words like "viral" and "marketing" in the comment threads - a ploy quickly uncovered.
By the time it all came crashing down, the site had already drawn attention from a mainstream newspaper, and of course the odd giddy satirist, thanks in part to a truly legendary "rap video" about the PSP, supposedly performed by "Cousin Pete", which has since been removed from the site and YouTube. Boo hoo.
Ultimately, Sony decided to call time on the idea, posting the following comment at the top of the blog: "Busted. Nailed. Snagged. As many of you have figured out (maybe our speech was a little too funky fresh???), Peter isn't a real hip-hop maven and this site was actually developed by Sony. Guess we were trying to be just a little too clever. From this point forward, we will just stick to making cool products, and use this site to give you nothing but the facts on the PSP."
Or, if you're Sony's American spokesperson, you'll try and win everybody over again by rejecting claims that the site was an insult to the people who actually do buy Sony products. "Sony just released the most advanced console ever developed, so I doubt seriously that anyone would think we are underestimating our consumers' intelligence," Dave Karraker told Next-gen.biz. They just don't know when to stop, do they?