Sony Abandons Santa Torture Ads

24 November 2000

Sony’s US subsidiary Sony Electronics has pulled a new campaign due to begin this week for its e-commerce website after an unnamed cable network refused to air it.

The set of six ads, targeted at mature adults and set to run on stations like MTV, ESPN and the Discovery Channel, featured Santa Claus being kidnapped, blindfolded and tortured, with the tagline “We have Santa. Shop at or there will be no Xmas”.

The ads’ creators Young & Rubicam have been given a fortnight to develop a new campaign for Christmas. Commented Y&R’s Liz Reilly: “We thought the work was appropriate for the target base, but at the same time we stand by Sony's decision”.

Sony declared: “We recognized as we were working on the campaign that the concept was edgy, but we chose to follow through with it based on the media buy strategy”. However, following initial feedback it became “concerned that consumers might misinterpret the edginess and irreverence of the campaign and may even be offended”.

Sony declined to name the network which refused to air some of the commercials. However, the ad in which Santa is chloroformed and bundled into the trunk of a car is thought to have been particularly unpopular.

News source: Wall Street Journal