Double Life (PlayStation ad)

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Double Life[1][2]
Double life.png
A screenshot from Double Life.
Agency TBWA\London
Client Sony Europe
Language English
Running time 60 seconds
Release date(s) 1999
Directed by Frank Budgen
Music by Zoo Studios, London
Gorgeous Enterprises, London
Produced by Paul Rothwell (production company), Di Croll (agency)
Country International release

Double Life is a television advertisement released in 1999 by Sony Europe. The 60-second long ad – conceived and written by copywriter James Sinclair, art director, Ed Morris and Trevor Beattie (creative director) – shows 19 PlayStation 1 gamers discussing their PS1 gaming experience. The ad was the most highly awarded in the world in 1999/2000 and has gone on to gain cult status.


The ad begins with an English-sounding man who walks through a busy street. He starts the ad by saying "For years, I've lived a double life. In the day, I do my job – I ride the bus, roll up my sleeves with the hoi-polloi.", then a number of different characters are seen including man lying on a bed with his girlfriend ("But at night, I live a life of exhilaration,"), a woman of Asiatic appearance ("of missed heartbeats and adrenalin."), a man in his living room ("And, if the truth be known",) and his teenage daughter ("a life of dubious virtue.") a man beside a car, ("I won't deny -") and wearing a scary – looking mask ("I've been engaged in violence, even indulged in it."), a half naked teenage boy ("I've maimed and killed adversaries, and not merely in self-defence."), a man in a bathtub ("I've exhibited disregard for life,"), a black man in a wheelchair ("limb"), and the man in the bath again ("and property,"), a "couch potato" ("and savoured every moment."), a woman with a deep voice ("You may not think it, to look of me"), a foreign sounding woman under an overpass ("but I have commanded armies,"), a preschool child ("and conquered worlds."), a cyclist wearing a scarf around his neck ("And though in achieving these things"), an oldish looking man ("I've set morality aside,"), a youngish woman holding a crying baby ("I have no regrets."), the black man spinning in his wheelchair again ("For though I've led a double life, at least I can say") and, the man, who was sitting with his girlfriend again ("- I have lived.") before a black screen comes up at the end saying "Do not underestimate the power of PlayStation".


The ad is internationally known (even though, it is a mainly European ad) and many people from the US and Asia have commented on its quality. Scott Steinberg, author of Videogame Marketing and PR and founder of Embassy Multimedia Consultants commented on the ad in 2008, saying

Pure genius, nothing less... From sheer caliber of script to general casting, dialogue, acoustics, camerawork and striking use of both color and imagery, this promotional spot commands the audience's attention like few other videogame ads – or advertisements, period – that've come before. Epic in scope, yet elegantly capturing every man's desire to transcend the boundaries of mundane life, to this day, the piece remains nothing short of iconic... not to mention instrumental in conveying the PlayStation family's inherent scope and value. Watching for the first time, it's near impossible to take your eyes off the screen, even if, upon reflection, the number of half-naked men and face time they're afforded proves slightly disproportionate... and disturbing. Still, it's quite possibly the first and truest example of modern "pull" vs. "push" game marketing in motion: Regardless if you can appreciate the depth of the prose, or simply prefer the promo's off-kilter sense of humor – seriously, is that a real baby or homicidal Cabbage Patch doll? – it's impossible to peel yourself away.


Double Life has clocked up over half a million views on YouTube[3] and the ad topped's "Top 10 Best PlayStation Ads". On 11 May 2007, Double Life was added to the Clio Hall of Fame.[1] Also, the first few lines ("For years, I've lived a double life.") are the first things featured on IGN's podcasts. A small screenshot of the ad was featured in The Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition.