Sony's Solution

Japan can’t catch a break.

Two months after a deadly earthquake rattled production for Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda, another Japan-based company is having problems of a different kind.

Sony, the Japanese entertainment and technology giant, has announced a major security breach that has compromised more than 77 million accounts. For players using Sony’s PlayStation Network, their account information including names, email addresses and birthdays is at risk.

Mark Stevens, author of ‘Your Marketing Sucks,’ told Varney & Co. Wednesday that Sony is facing a unique kind of public relations crisis, primarily because it has a unique following.

“This is a cult revolt,” said Stevens, “And a cult revolt is different when you have hacked into a product.”

Stevens used the world “cult” to describe a sense of family created among avid PlayStation players. On Sunday, the chief of Sony Corp.’s PlayStation video game unit apologized for the inconvenience, but Stevens said this tight knit group of gamers does not want other people to tell them what the issue is; instead they want to be informed from the inside.

“When something goes wrong, they want a fellow cult person to come in and solve the problem,” said Stevens.

Having Sony executives apologize was the wrong decision, says Stevens. Instead, “I think they [Sony] should have taken some stars in the PlayStation world and grabbed one of them, explained to them what happened and that they apologize for it and will fix it.”

Although Stevens says an insider would have proven much more powerful than a corporate spokesperson, he believes Sony is not likely to lose significant business. The company has added software monitoring, enhanced data protection and encryptions in an attempt to regain its players trust.

“The Japanese have a desire to control things,” says Stevens, “They want to control the message and they don’t really want you to ask them questions.” So while their new security measures may work, Stevens says the Sony will never achieve full control “in this fluid type of viral environment that PlayStation has opened up.”