Sony has done something that seems so unjustified in a way that even I, Mr. PlayStation fanboy extraordinaire, can’t defend it or spin it in a positive light. A lot of dumb things have come out of Sony such as the infamous E3 2006 debacle and more constant things such as unloading a bevy of PSN games in the same week, but Sony went ahead and did something that seems entirely frivolous - they sued actor Jerry Lambert, the man members of the PlayStation nation know better as Kevin Butler.
Yes, we live in a world that is so protective and sensitive about certain things that Sony sued one of their core platform mascots. The news of the lawsuit may have come out of nowhere more or less, but those out there who are glued to their TVs may have gotten a glimpse of what made Sony send their hounds after Jerry.
In early September Bridgestone, the tire company, started a campaign which somehow had a Wii connection worked in as such a thing is the wonder of PR and marketing departments. The interesting thing about this ad is that it featured Jerry, playing another character, and several other actors playing Mario Kart on the Wii, thus they’re promoting Nintendo. Obviously such a situation proved to be ironic as the former PlayStation pitchman was now giving Nintendo a helping hand, despite having already being a part of the Bridgestone campaign for several months.
A gif from the Bridgestone commercial featuring Jerry Lambert.
Most gamers brushed the news of “Kevin Butler” appearing in a Nintendo backed commercial as a funny incident, but apparently this didn’t please the brass at Sony. As uncovered by NeoGAF, Sony filed a lawsuit against Bridgestone and Wildcat Creek - the production company which just so happens to be owned by Jerry Lambert. The arrival of the lawsuit from Sony then saw all Bridgestone ad materials involving the Nintendo promotion being altered to not feature Jerry at all ; obviously at the behest of Sony.
Since being filed on September 11, the lawsuit has subsequently entered a peaceful situation as per a call received on September 26th from Sony cited that they were close to resolving the issue, no doubt with a bit of compensation or major wrist slapping. An official update on the matter will be announced on October 12th so we’ll have to wait a while before hearing if Jerry has been let off the hook or if Sony is still pursuing the matter.
I guess it’s understandable in a sense that Sony may not be happy to see the actor responsible for a major campaign appear in something pushing the competition, but still the whole lawsuit seemed pointless. Unless Jerry’s contract with Sony had a very ironclad non-compete clause then I don’t see what was the point of making the lawsuit, especially in the wake of Sony dropping Deutsch/LA - the ad agency responsible for creating the Kevin Butler persona and adverts. Yes, Sony actually dropped the company that created one of their better ad campaigns in recent memory which has basically put them back to square one in pushing their products; a situation which is evident by the recent layoffs the SCEA PR department received.
The lawsuit may make a small amount of sense in a high-end corporate sense, but it’s still odd and in some ways is a prime example of how out of touch Sony can be. I’ll admit that I definitely favor the PlayStation camp more than Microsoft or Nintendo, but the company can do some odd things that come across as if its fighting against itself. We haven’t seen Kevin Butler appear in a Sony ad for quite some time yet the character is still being pushed through small things such as a kart and character in LBP Karting. Even then he’s nowhere to be seen in PlayStation All-Stars despite being the perfect candidate for an announcer so things are a bit uneven to say the least.
This whole lawsuit situation shows how Sony can get worked up over something and seemingly have enough money to throw around for a lawsuit despite their efforts being better focused on other things. Again we’ll have to wait a little bit to finally learn if the lawsuit has been settled, but for now it seems like the chances of seeing Kevin Butler appear in a PlayStation ad campaign are extremely low unless such a thing was oddly worked into the settlement details.
In some ways I feel a bit sorry for Jerry as he's just an actor trying to make a living who may have just gotten mixed up in some weird company vs. company competition. Though it would be diabolical if Nintendo had any hand in pursuing Jerry for this Bridgestone ad campaign merely to piss off Sony.