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Nintendo, a video game developer and publisher, has engaged in a variety of marketing campaigns. They range from early efforts to appeal to teenagers with "Play It Loud!", to a more open-ended "Who Are You?" campaign. Nintendo also markets its various consoles and games, sometimes with lavish promotions.
Originally, all marketing operations for Nintendo of America were based out of the company's Redmond, Washington headquarters. It opted not to expand that headquarters, although it owned 550,000 square feet of property for potential expansion. In May 2007, the company announced plans to move its sales, marketing, and advertising divisions to either San Francisco or New York City. The company established its new office in Redwood City, California.
Reginald "Reggie" Fils-Aimé joined Nintendo in December 2003 as the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. He was responsible for all sales and marketing activities for Nintendo in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. Fils-Aimé shot to fame in May 2004 with the opening line of Nintendo's E3 press conference: "My name is Reggie. I'm about kickin' ass, I'm about takin' names, and we're about makin' games." His theatrical antics, flying in the face of Nintendo's long-standing "kiddie" image, gained a cult following soon after, with many gamers calling him the "Regginator". Following the conference, many images of him spread across the Web. Fils-Aimé is considered to be responsible for revamping Nintendo's public relations in North America, leading many fans and members of the press to dub his arrival the "Reggielution" (after "Revolution", the code name for the Wii). He speaks highly of the "blue oceans" strategy, which attempts to bring in people who are not traditionally gamers. His expertise is with youth marketing, although he made an effort to reach out to the elderly using games like Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! and Nintendogs. In October 2007, Fils-Aimé was promoted to president and chief operating officer of NoA. On February 21, 2019, Fils-Aimé publicly announced that he is now retiring and handing over his presidency of Nintendo of America to Doug Bowser.
Cammie Dunaway took up the role following the promotion of Fils-Aimé. Dunaway was named one of the 100 top marketers by Advertising Age. She appeared onstage for Nintendo's E3 2008 press conference, demonstrating Shaun White Snowboarding and Wii Sports Resort. She also made numerous more appearances that day. Dunaway also appeared at Nintendo's E3 Press Conference in 2009. Dunaway left Nintendo of America in October 2010. She joined KidZania as the global chief marketing officer.
Dunaway was succeeded by Scott Moffitt in May 2011. Moffitt previously worked at Henkel and PepsiCo, and was tasked with providing new life to the Nintendo 3DS and Wii. In August 2015, Scott Moffitt was succeeded by Doug Bowser as the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Bowser had previously been the VP of Sales, coming to Nintendo in 2014 from Electronic Arts.
The Best Play HereEdit
"The Best Play Here" campaign was aimed at children and adults. It was relatively mild and not as emphatic as the "Play It Loud!" campaign that would follow. Leo Burnett U.S.A. produced the campaign.
Play It Loud!Edit
Facing intense competition from Sega, Nintendo decided to alter the trajectory of its marketing and pitch a new image to the public. The Play It Loud! campaign marked a departure from traditional marketing practice by Nintendo. Instead of focusing on one particular console or game, it promoted a particular corporate image. The campaign was aimed at Nintendo's core market: teenage boys. Dan Coyner, marketing manager at Nintendo of America, noted that previous campaigns felt "like an adult talking to a child," while Play It Loud! appealed more directly to a younger audience. John Montgomery of Burnett said the ads were intended "to capture what kids are in their music, their clothes, their attitudes."
The advertisements extensively used youth slang of the day, advising viewers to "hock a loogie at life" and "give the world a wedgie." They also utilized "provocative imagery," such as a tattoo reading Play It Loud! Advertisements used music extensively, marrying hard rock music with video games. One early advertisement featured the Butthole Surfers, an alternative rock band.
The campaign ran from July 1994 to September 1996. It had a $10 million budget and was produced by Burnett.
Who Are You?Edit
Nintendo of America engaged in an ad campaign that featured the "Who Are You?" slogan across Nintendo's entire product line, to market the wide range of games Nintendo offers. The idea behind the "Who Are You?" campaign was that "you are what you play"; the kind of game a person enjoys playing suggests something about that gamer's personality. The "Who Are You?" logo was designed in graffiti-style lettering. Most of the "Who Are You?" commercials advertised games developed or published by Nintendo, but some developers paid Nintendo to promote their games, using Nintendo's marketing and advertising resources.
Too Much FunEdit
Nintendo of Canada adopted an ironic approach to marketing itself in 2004. The "Too Much Fun" campaign jokingly presented "N" (short for Nintendo) as an illicit drug. The campaign stated that "Four out of five doctors agree that using 'N' leads directly to Too Much Fun." Its Ministry of Fun Suppression was said to offer possible remedies. As a remedy, the company suggested self-help groups including Nintendojo and other fan sites.
Nintendo Entertainment SystemEdit
Nintendo promoted its Nintendo Entertainment System using the slogan, "Now you're playing with power!" It would go on to modify and adapt the slogan for other consoles.
When promoting the miniature, classic NES (titled the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition in the US, Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe and Australia), the original NES slogan was brought back in its YouTube trailer.
Super Nintendo Entertainment SystemEdit
Nintendo promoted its Super Nintendo Entertainment System using a modification of the slogan for the console's predecessor, "Now you're playing with power; SUPER POWER!" or "Now you're playing with power. Super power."
The company promoted its Game Boy line using a modification of the slogan used for the Nintendo Entertainment System, "Now you're playing with power; PORTABLE POWER!"
Nintendo extensively advertised the Virtual Boy, and claimed to have spent US$25 million on early promotional activities. Advertising promoted the system as a paradigm shift from past consoles; some pieces used cavemen to indicate a historical evolution, while others utilized psychedelic imagery. Nintendo portrayed the system as a type of virtual reality, as its name indicates; it was to be more than just another gaming console.
Confronted with the challenge of showing 3-dimensional gameplay on 2-dimensional advertisements, the company partnered with Blockbuster and NBC in a coordinated effort. American viewers were encouraged via television advertisements on NBC to rent the console for US$10 at a local Blockbuster. This made it affordable for a large number of gamers to try the system, and produced 750,000 rentals. Despite its popularity, the rental system proved harmful to the Virtual Boy's long-term success, allowing gamers to see just how un-immersive the console was. Nintendo promoted the console using the slogan "3-D game for a 3-D World."
Taken as a whole, the marketing campaign was commonly thought of as a failure.
Nintendo used several advertising strategies and techniques for the GameCube. Around the time of release, the GameCube was advertised with the slogan "Born to Play." The earliest commercials displayed a rotating cube animation, which would morph into the GameCube logo as a female voice whispers, "GameCube". This was usually displayed at the end of GameCube game commercials.
In 2005, Nintendo adopted a somewhat controversial tagline to promote its Nintendo DS handheld console. The slogan, "Touching is Good," promoted the unusual touch-based features of the console. A web site created for the promotion awarded prizes to fans. For the Nintendo DSi, the slogan "What will you and I do?" was used to emphasize the built in camera.
To promote the launch of its unconventional Wii console, Nintendo chose a unique approach to advertising. Rather than appeal to teenage males, Nintendo's traditional audience, the "Wii Would Like to Play" campaign showed people of all ages and backgrounds playing the console. The advertisements made particular note of the Wii's motion control system. The advertising campaign was produced by Leo Burnett, the firm responsible for many past Nintendo campaigns. The campaign won the Grand Effie Award in 2008 for the Most Effective Marketing Effort.
Multiple slogans were used to promote the newest model of the DS family, the Nintendo 3DS. The first slogan was "Take a Look Inside" which highlighted the system's 3D gameplay. In May 2016, after Nintendo reduced the price of the Nintendo 2DS, a new slogan, "There's No Play Like It," and accompanying logo was featured.
The Nintendo Switch's advertising campaign involved the slogan "Switch and Play" to show the versatility of playing the console anywhere. Alternatively, the slogan "Play anywhere, anytime, with anyone" has been used in various European trailers featuring the console.
Due to negative perceptions of the business viability of video games following the video game crash of 1983, Nintendo decided to position the NES more as a toy than a computing device. This corresponded with targeted marketing towards the demographic of young boys, a choice which set the tone for marketing across the industry for more than a decade.
At the release of the Nintendo DS in 2005, Nintendo attempted to expand the audience toward older males with the sexually suggestive "Touching is Good" advertising campaign. Advertising for the DS later pivoted towards adult women, emphasizing health and productivity while avoiding referring to products as games. Nintendo continued this emphasis on older and female audiences with the Wii console. The Wii's motion controls and casual software helped Nintendo expand its audience, even as many in Nintendo's traditional market regarded the system dismissively. Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw identified The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask as exemplifying the type of complicated game beloved by core gamers that would not be replicated by newer titles emphasizing accessibility.
Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto commented in 2014 that due to the pervasiveness of mobile phone games, Nintendo no longer needed to work at convincing all audiences that games are for them. He further expressed a desire to develop for more engaged audiences who want to challenge themselves. The release of the New Nintendo 3DS, with more complicated controls and launch titles, was seen as a pivot back towards a hardcore gaming audience. This repositioning was a retreat from competition in mobile gaming from smartphones, while Nintendo prepares new health-oriented game devices to once again tap the non-traditional gaming market.
After the disappointing sales of the Wii U, partly due to poor marketing and the rise of mobile phone gaming, Nintendo pushed its latest console, the Nintendo Switch, with strong advertising and promotion. The portable home console aims to appeal to both casual and core gamers, focusing on portability and multiple modes of playing. Nintendo showcased its first-ever Super Bowl ad during Super Bowl LI, with a 30-second advertisement for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch.
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