Ad critic: Sony's racially charged PSP ad [update 1]

We've decided to run ad critic early this week after this one landed on our doorsteps. The latest in a long line of questionable marketing decisions by Sony, this ad -- gracing the streets of Amsterdam and the Dutch PSP site -- promotes the upcoming white PSP with the racially charged image of a white woman grabbing a black woman's face. Other images on the website (embedded after the break) offer additional avenues of interpretation.

While we think it's hardly debatable that the ad is offensive (debate ensues), why would Sony -- and their "disruptive" advertising partners at TBWA -- think this ad appropriate? Any Dutch readers care to offer a regional point-of-view on local racial mores? Any black readers, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere, want to offer your initial reactions to the image? Perhaps most importantly (this is an advertisement after all), will this fulfill the contention that generating word-of-mouth is the metric by which to gauge the success of an ad, no matter the method?

Please keep the debate friendly, respectful, and well-mannered. It is possible to express your opinion on sensitive issues like race while doing so.

See also: Ad critic: Superman, Ad critic: Auto Assault, Ad critic: Oblivion , Ad critic: Tomb Raider, Ad critic: Hitman.

[Thanks to everyone that sent this in!]

[Update 1: Sony has come to the defense of the controversial ads, telling, "All of the 100 or so images created for the campaign have been designed to show this contrast in colours of the PSPs , and have no other message or purpose." We'll gather up some of the best comments from this thread (thanks for keeping it on track everyone) and follow up later in the week.]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.