Wii to the masses

by: Sean Colleli -
More On: Wii
Those new PS3 ads are disturbing, huh?  What's more disturbing is a total lack of widespread counter-marketing by Nintendo...at least until now.  The Kyoto-based gaming giant is starting a self-described blitz this week.  I think the whole marketing push is cutting it way too close to launch, but at least Nintendo is serious this time; the campaign is costing them over $200 million.

The campaign is hitting a lot of bases to net a large audience, using techniques like mall kiosks, "Wii Ambassador" programs and even a MySpace page.  Keep an eye out for the "Wii would like to play" ad on TV, a quirky but funny commercial that gets the point of the Wii accross nicely.  Thankfully no creepy, backwards-crying baby dolls or exploding rubix cubes are involved. 
Nintendo's Marketing Blitz: Wii Play for All!

  Sampling and Sharing Mark Wii System's Multimillion-Dollar Debut Campaign

    REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- 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(TM) 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.
    (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20061011/LAW104LOGO )
    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
    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."

    Hands-on Sampling

    *  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

    *  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.

    Brand Partnerships

    *  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:
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.

    For more information about Wii, visit Wii.com
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