Sony is looking beyond traditional advertising to user-generated content to help maximise sales of its PlayStation 3 console Sony's long awaited multimedia games console, PlayStation 3, finally goes on sale in Britain next month. The delay has given the media giant plenty of time to devise a marketing strategy - and it is clear that Sony intend to take full advantage of opportunities presented by the explosion of social networking sites and other digital outlets. It has identified 12 individuals and organisations - ranging from club promoters to artists, fashion industry insiders, Dazed & Confused magazine and even the BBC's 1Xtra - and given them a free hand to create original content inspired by key characteristics of the PS3. Each will then distribute content digitally across a wide range of outlets including their own contacts and fanbases, social networks such as MySpace and Bebo, websites, blogs, and by email. According to Alan Duncan, marketing director for Sony Computer Entertainment UK, the strategy has been driven by a belief that traditional advertising and PR would be unable to adequately communicate the PS3's appeal. [Mmmnote: OR since the conventional press is shitting on you so much, just cut out the middle man] "The idea is to use physical space, blogs, and other forms of digital networking to inform, entertain, and encourage interaction and debate about all the different things the PS3 can do," he says. The aim is to reach potential PS3 buyers who, Sony believes, are not just hardcore game enthusiasts but anyone interested in the arts, culture, digital media and content creation. The campaign has already evolved through a number of stages. Last October Sony Europe approached digital content and research agency Ramp Industry to set up a semi-official PS3 blog called Three Speech. Sony has no editorial control over this but uses it to interact with potential PS3 buyers. ... Then in December Sony opened a branded venue in London's East End called Three Space where it runs product briefings and demonstrations by day and a diverse array of live entertainment events by night. Many of the latter have been conceived by its 12 independent content and distribution partners, the first of which - a PS3 inspired fashion shoot styled and staged by multimedia art, design and fashion magazine KCTV - took place earlier this month. Audiences for these events include journalists, art, design and fashion industry insiders and ordinary consumers, all carefully selected for their interest in capturing, recording and distributing their experiences digitally. ... In contrast, Dazed & Confused is using Three Space to showcase its recently launched Dazed Digital online multimedia site and create new content - it is staging an event at the venue on February 8 which will include an informal studio session with three live bands. "Obviously the venue is branded but PlayStation has not insisted on any particular prominence for their name or dictated what sort of content we create," Dazed & Confused editor in chief Nicki Bidder says. "It's a two way thing - we're using their platform to promote our product, they're using ours to promote theirs." User generated content (UGC) also features in the Sony strategy. Another of its creative partners, fashion and style publisher and consultancy Marmalade, is launching the first user generated magazine in partnership with MySpace. The aim of all of this is to create a "digital echo" or ripple effect, according to Rana Reeves, a director of brand consultancy Shine Communications which developed the digital strategy with Sony. "We set out to find the Lily Allens of the arts, design, and fashion worlds - people already out there effectively self promoting themselves through blogs, social networking sites, websites, and virally," he explains. "Traditionally, brand communication with consumers has been channelled via an ad agency. The explosion of social networks and blogging, however, has created a seismic shift. Brands wanting to enter this world have to be prepared to trust consumers to talk about them whether the comment is good or bad." Sony wants PlayStation to be seen as an enabler and a platform for creative talent. And the dozen creative partners producing what Sony is calling "cultural content" to promote PlayStation had few qualms about effectively co-creating a brand marketing campaign. "We've been transparent throughout that at the end of the day this is about shifting units," Reeves adds. "But people have been happy to work with us to create content that will publicise the product because, as well as covering costs, PlayStation is providing them with a platform for their creativity in return."