A different kind of video game system demands a different kind of marketing effort. That’s why Nintendo is moving to unprecedented lengths to let people see, feel and experience the unparalleled new Wii™ system, created to be easily used by anyone. Nintendo’s multimillion-dollar marketing campaign spotlights that Wii is the only new video game system every member of a household can enjoy.
Gaming for the masses is seen in every element of the marketing campaign, from an online social-networking community and sampling events in average people’s homes to urban “gaming” hours, retail midnight madness events, a multi-city music tour and extended hands-on opportunities in malls nationwide. Across the country, men and women, young and old, experienced and not, are getting their hands on Wii and helping usher in a new generation of video gamers.
Already Nintendo’s viral efforts have paid off. In a 24-hour period in early November, Wii served as the centerpiece of a multipart South Park episode, appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, made People magazine’s Style Watch gift guide issue, was featured in an NPR report about hot holiday gifts and had a BusinessWeek feature note: “industry execs and analysts are already calling a winner: Nintendo’s Wii.” And all of this before the system has even launched.
“Our plan to market Wii broadly with hands-on experiences continues to pay off,” says George Harrison, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications. “Wii introduces new ways to play to expand both the appeal of games and the audience of gamers, and our marketing campaign is central to that.”
* Wii Ambassador Program: The yearlong initiative identified ambassadors in markets throughout the country. These ambassadors are of three categories: multigenerational families, hard-core gamers and modern moms. During the initial phase, Nintendo hosted events for each ambassador and 30 of his or her closest friends and relatives. The events offered an opportunity for everyday people from all walks of life to play Wii for the first time and share their experiences with others.
* Wii Mall Experience: Starting Nov. 15, Nintendo will set up six interactive Wii kiosks for a two-month period in 25 Westfield shopping centers across the country. Trained representatives will show visitors new ways to play. For a complete list of the participating malls, visit wii.nintendo.com.
* Nintendo Fusion Tour: The annual showcase for music and video games visits cities across the country through Nov. 11. In addition to live music from headliner Hawthorne Heights and four other up-and-coming bands, concert attendees get to enjoy some hands-on time with Wii.
* Blender: Nintendo Fusion Tour headliner Hawthorne Heights shows off their slick Wii moves and talk about some of the upcoming games for Wii in the December issue.
* Urban Gaming Hours: Through Nov. 17, Nintendo is hosting a gaming take on “happy hour” at gatherings for urban influencers in fashion, music and media, such as Vice magazine and Def Jam Records. The on-site events let participants experience Wii with their colleagues.
* RISE: The December issue of this sports and lifestyle magazine for teens will feature thoughts from top teen athletes about their experiences sampling the Wii console.
Feeding the Buzz
* How Wii Play: Wii’s MySpace page at www.MySpace.com/howwiiplay has attracted nearly 1 million page views from more than 200,000 unique visitors, largely by word-of-mouth. Members have created their own Wii videos and posted thousands of messages in the robust forums.
* Midnight Madness: Countdown events at Toys “R” Us in New York’s Times Square and at GameStop at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles will turn the last few hours before the launch of Wii into an entertainment frenzy. Nintendo fans of all stripes will line up to be the first to purchase the console at the stroke of midnight as they are entertained by acrobats, music, pyrotechnics, Wii interactives on Segway scooters and a general party atmosphere.
* 7-Eleven: 7-Eleven is giving away 711 Wii consoles. Codes are printed on the sides of special Nintendo-branded Slurpee cups. Through Jan. 31, people go online to enter their codes to see if they have won. 7-Eleven also will introduce a new limited-time-only Nintendo-themed Slurpee flavor: StrawberrWii Banana. Print ads will run in Blender, Electronic Gaming Monthly and DC Comics. Print ads will also run in USA Today and The Onion. In addition, online banner ads will appear on Google, GameZone, IGN, Rotten Tomatoes and GameSpot.
* Pringles Snack Stacks: Pringles.com is giving away 100 Wii consoles. The program is supported by 7 million Wii-themed Pringles Snack Stacks packages and an additional 2 million Wii-themed Pringles canisters on display at Wal-Mart stores for the first three weeks of December. The sweepstakes runs now through April 16.
* Comedy Central: The comedy cable network will give away a Wii every hour Thursday through Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Wii will be featured in a series of vignettes spoofing reality TV shows. At the end of the weekend, the grand prize will be a Wii console and a Scion tricked out to look like a Wii.
As Seen on TV
* Wii Would Like to Play: Wii’s central ad campaign follows two friendly Japanese men who bring Wii to people’s homes to demonstrate how easy and fun it is for everyone to play. Stephen Gaghan, who wrote the screenplay for and directed Syriana and won a best screenplay Oscar for writing Traffic, directed the four spots. The director of photography is John Seale, who won an Oscar for best cinematography on The English Patient and was nominated for Oscars for Rain Man, Cold Mountain and Witness. The spots begin airing the week of Nov. 13.
* Nick @ Nite: Wii will be featured on the Nov. 24 Nick@Nite episode of Road Crew. The spots feature a family from Long Island that finally finds something they can all enjoy together - playing Wii.
* Nickelodeon: A Wii ad begins Nov. 20. The 60-second spot shows a dad mistaking the Wii Remote for his television remote control. Dad becomes immersed in the fun, and soon the whole family joins in.
* TeleFutura: Nintendo will be at November auditions in New York for the highly successful international singing competition show Objetivo Fama (Objective: Fame) to allow contestants to sample the Wii console and calm their pre-audition jitters.
* Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Discovery Kids Network: A feature scheduled to air in December showcases kids, parents and teachers sampling Wii at a school event and sharing their experiences.