01 September 1998

A STORM RAGED around Sony Computer Entertainment after the revelation that it was behind a controversial consumer mailing. An envelope, marked private and confidential and headed ‘Test Results’, contained a fake medical card, purportedly signed by a doctor. This read: 'I am writing as a matter of urgency with your scan results - they reveal early stages of a progressive condition for which I am prescribing imme-diate treatment'. Other pseudo-medical jargon followed, accompanied by a mock X-ray and – almost as an afterthought - a pricelist for Sony’s Playstation games system. The campaign [which would have struck even a first-year IDM student as unbelievably crass and ultra-risky] inevitably landed on the doormats of people awaiting the outcome of genuine medical tests, including one expecting the results of a recent cancer scan. The Advertising Standards Authority said it had so far received twenty telephone complaints and that a formal investigation was under way. Sony apologised 'unreservedly' and said the mailing had been withdrawn immediately: 'It was an awful mistake', admitted a company spokesperson.