How does one actually boycott?

I was listening to one of my long-time podcasts, Geek News Central, and during the most recent episodes, one of the listeners wrote in to share that he has been boycotting Sony ever since the whole Sony Music “rootkit” fiasco back in 2005. This has come up a few times as well as the general concept of boycotts, and each time, I can’t decide my thoughts on it.

Let me preface this with the fact that I currently work for Sony Computer Entertainment America, which is the Sony division responsible for the Sony Playstation in the US territories.My trouble is that, at least with Sony, my division, which is under Sony Computer Entertainment, is only affiliated with Sony BMG by name and a common parent. Part of me is embarssed by the BMG misstep but wonder why should my particular part of the Sony “family” be punished for their behavior. I’m nearly 100% sure that nobody within SCEA, at even the highest levels, had anything to do the decision to include any form of software on the published CDs.

Don’t get me wrong, if you want to punish “Sony” it’s easier to boycott anything Sony regardless of how close they are (or aren’t) to the group you have issue with. I just wonder if that is going to effectively send the message you intend.I suppose a parallel (weak as it might be) is the thought that you’ll boycott oranges from southern California or sourdough bread from San Francisco (forgive me, I thought of this as I drove home and was hungry) just because you object to the subject matter of a movie out of Hollywood. They’re all from California, right? The message will work its way to the governor and he’ll crack down to give you satisfaction, right? I’m not so sure.

Sony is a quite large company. I’ll give you an example. You’d think that Sony Online Entertainment (the developers of Everquest) and SCEA are common siblings due to the fact we produce games. Heck, here in San Diego, our offices are only about 5 miles from each other. In reality, SOE is under the Sony Pictures banner and is (organizationally) only loosely affiliated with us. It’s not a perfect example, as our two companies do work together in some respects, but not much differently than we might work together with other companies.When it really comes down to it, regardless of how you choose to draw the line when you decide to boycott a company, the thing you have to do before all else, is to inform the company that you are not giving them your money and why that is the case. I personally would suggest contacting the group you have particular issue with and do your best to determine their one or two immediate “parents” and inform them as well.

Will Sony Music hear the message just because you chose not to purchase a Sony Electronics’ DVD player or Sony Computer Entertainment’s Playstation 3? Perhaps. A direct letter to the CEO of Sony BMG (Rolf Schmidt-Holtz) would probably have a much better chance.

Ultimately, I’m not particularly worried about my job as a result of any such boycott. I am just frustrated to explain to people when I mention what I do that “I work for Sony ‘Playstation’ and have nothing to do with rootkits.” 

2 thoughts on “How does one actually boycott?

  1. Mike, I understand your frustration, but you or actually Sony gets the good with the bad. For example. Sony was the first to come out with personal audio devices like the Walkman, and during that time was very innovative with their products. So once the brand name recognition was developed to a high positive, the Sony management decided to label all things Sony. This sold a LOT of consumer good products but then it also sold a LOT of over priced crap under the Sony Label. This Root kit fiasco Damaged the Sony Brand name and the management team that did the damage should all be fired because of the harm to the Sony name. but that was not done, which says a lot about Sony Upper management.
    Also it is not up to the consumer to try to figure out the corporate structure to figure out which division or subdivision to boycott.
    What the management of your devision needs to decide is can they sell more products as “Sony Computer Entertainment America” or “Computer Entertainment America”?? If you need the “Sony” to help your sales then you need to take the good with the bad.

  2. Jack, that is a really good point that I hadn’t considered. SCEA has historically been very valuable to the Sony family and while we aren’t without our failures, have represented the Sony brand well. I’m just frustrated that there are companies that I am affiliated with that choose to do such obviously foolish things (IMHO).

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