Friday, November 9, 2012

Nintendo's U.S. Wii U TV advertising. Marketing genius, or marketing failure?

Coffee Beans
There are now four official Wii U commercials for the United States. There is the official "Wii U Advertising Campaign Launch Video", which is the only one minute Wii U commercial so far; and New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo Land, and SiNG Party each have their own 30 second commercial.

The U.S. Wii U commercials have received mixed reactions from fans, and for various reasons: the music, the presentation, the information (or lack thereof). The video above is the slightly updated version of my original updated version of Nintendo's "Wii U Advertising Campaign Launch Video", that Nintendo of America revealed last Thursday.

Do the U.S. Wii U commercials do a good enough job at addressing the fact that the Wii U is a brand new console, with a brand new controller? Will the way that each U.S. commercial is worded be a genius marketing strategy, or a marketing failure? Brew yourself some coffee and hit the jump to take a look at the commercials, and specifically listen to the way the Wii U is talked about in each commercial.

The Brew
Here's the first U.S. Wii U commercial, "Wii U Advertising Campaign Launch Video":

The second Wii U commercial to hit Nintendo of America's YouTube account was this New Super Mario Bros. U commercial, last Friday:

The SiNG Party Wii U commercial was originally released by the production company behind the dancers in the commercial, and then Nintendo added it to their YouTube account this past Monday:

The last U.S. Wii U commercial to be released, so far, is this Nintendo Land commercial that they released on Monday as well:

Caffeinated Thoughts
I don't think the Wii U commercials do a good enough job of addressing the fact the Wii U is a brand new console, and instead I think they give the impression the "Wii U" is just a brand new controller that works with existing Wii consoles.

In the Wii U campaign launch video the line used is, "With the all new Wii U...", and that's it. Not once, in the entire one minute video are the words "console" or "system" spoken. I also think the commercial is lacking a few key details that would help clear up that the Wii U is a new console and not just a new Wii controller, and I added a few of those details in my video up top. Instead of just focusing on the Wii U console and the Wii U GamePad, they show people sitting around in the rooms participating in gameplay using Wii Remotes and Nunchuks as well.

What about the New Super Mario Bros. U launch TV commercial? It has the same issue. The lines are, "This is how you'll play next. Using the all new Wii U GamePad controller...", and it ends with "New Super Mario Bros. U, only available on the all new Wii U." It lacks the specific words "the all new Wii U console" or "the all new Wii U system". Like the Wii U launch video, they show other people playing with Wii Remotes in the commercial.

What about the SiNG Party Wii U launch TV commercial? Same thing! It's a 30 second commercial, and the first voice-over line in the commercial is, "Face the crowd and get the party started with the all new Wii U GamePad controller.", followed up immediately with the next line, "SiNG Party, only available on the all new Wii U."

Nintendo Land's commercial? Same thing. "With the all new Wii U, this is how you'll play next." There is no focus on the Wii U console by itself, and it shows other players using Wii Remotes (and Nunchuks) to play the game along side the GamePad.

The commercials all end with an image of the Wii U GamePad in front of the Wii U system, and the games being sandwiched between them (on the game only commercials). The problem with this? The Wii U console looks a lot like the Wii console. Hiding it in the back without ever showing it up close with the logo on it, and never showing the price of the two bundles (or that it comes in two bundles), I don't think is helping customers/viewers understand this is an entirely new system. To see what the Wii would look like behind the Wii U GamePad, I edited the following image:

Also, while I understand Nintendo is wanting current Wii owners to understand their Wii Remotes and Nunchuks will work on the new Wii U system, I don't understand why they are showing the Wii Remotes and Nunchuks being used for gameplay, instead of showing the Wii U Pro Controllers being used instead.

I really do hope I'm wrong and that the Wii U commercials provide enough information for your average consumer, but I fear for the retail employees that will have to explain to the customers showing up in stores expecting only to buy a new Wii controller, that it's not just the controller but an entirely new system they need. Having worked in retail, and seeing how the U.S. Wii U commercials are worded and lack information such as price, I can see this being an issue.

Perhaps the commercials are worded the way they are to purposely get consumers thinking this is just a new Wii controller, and then when they show up in stores they will get to demo the system live hands-on instead? Maybe Nintendo is betting that hands-on with the system in stores will help sell it, and that consumers will also do the research before heading out this holiday season to buy a Wii U?

If the marketing strategy with the U.S. Wii U commercials is trying to get the mass market to think the Wii U GamePad is just a new Wii controller though, I think they are doing it the right way, even though I think it would be odd if that's their goal. Maybe this will be the best way to get consumers to look up information on the Wii U, and I just hope that providing less information to consumers initially, ends up selling more Wii U consoles for them.

I don't think the European or Japanese Wii U commercials have the wording problem that the U.S. commercials do, so I think it will be interesting to see which marketing strategy works out to be the best. Will more basic information equal more sales, or less basic information equal more sales? Is less, more? I guess we'll find out within a few months if Wii U units are flying off store shelves in the U.S., or if Nintendo of America changes the marketing techniques.

If you have a cable TV or satellite TV subscription, have you seen any of the Wii U's commercials? If so, do you think the commercials do a good enough job explaining that the Wii U is a brand new console, with a brand new controller?

Do you think the lack of information such as the Wii U being available in two bundles, at two different price points, and the wording in the U.S. commercials is a genius marketing strategy, or a marketing failure from what you have seen?

You can pre-order New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo Land, and SiNG Party on below, as well as see the outrageous prices of Wii U consoles from third party sellers because is still not carrying the Wii U directly:


  1. I suspect the reason Nintendo isn't using the word "console" or "system" is because Nintendo doesn't want the Wii U to be associated with "those boxes that teenage boys put under their TV to play pew pew games."

    Nintendo isn't marketing the Wii U to gamers in the TV adverts. They've already decided whether they're going to buy the console or not. Nintendo is marketing the Wii U to non gamers, and words like "console" and "system" are the kind of gamer-savvy jargon that puts those people off.

    The Wii U is being positioned as The Wii U. Not a console, not a system, just a really fun new thing to play games on.

    And I think it's the right strategy to take.

  2. I should add that the purpose of TV advertising is not about providing information. TV adds are too short for sharing information.

    No. The point of TV advertising is to pull on viewer's emotional strings, build brand awareness (by association with lifestyles, celebrities etc), and so on. TV advertising is designed to be the "first touch" with a potential new customer. After the potential new customer says "oh, that looks cool," the idea is for other marketing channels to touch them with more information for them to make an informed purchasing decision.

    Modern TV advertising is like the old headline trick:

    "HOT SEX!!!"

    "Now I have your attention...."

    The TV ad is the headline "HOT SEX!!!" Other marketing channels (online, in-store, word of mouth, advertorial coverage) is the "Now I have your attention" bit.

  3. "The Wii U is being positioned as The Wii U. Not a console, not a system, just a really fun new thing to play games on."

    It's okay if they position it and sell it as the Wii U, but with their ads the "Wii U" appears to be just a new controller to me (and apparently others as well).

    As for pulling on viewer's emotional strings and building brand awareness, I don't think the launch video does, or the other ones that well. (Maybe SiNG Party because it has a song playing and shows people being happy.)

    I actually wrote this comment on November 1st when they released the ad on another site, "I'm not sure what target audience this is aiming for. I'll have to show my wife later, but our older (3.5) spotted NSMBU and called it out correctly, "Mario U!"...but then he quickly went back to his snack and didn't finish the video.

    It doesn't have a "feel good" "happy thought" "puppies and kittens" type of appeal to me, it was kind of...edgy?"

    I do understand that ads take time to build "brand awareness" (in politics you have about 2-3 weeks of running ads before you can usually expect to see how the ads worked in the polls), but the way the launch video is sooo busy, just doesn't seem like it will connect with many non-gamers and doesn't say "HOT COFFEE!!!", to me at least.

    I think you need an ad to get people talking for sure, and I just don't see those type of ads (not to the general public anyway).

    Thanks for the feedback! BTW, does Australia have any ads yet, and have you see the Japanese ad where they start off calling it the "Super Wii"?

  4. Nope, we've had no Australian TV ads at all that I've seen. Particularly not the Super Wii one

  5. Considering that RMC at GoNintendo's Wii U unboxing ( was better than the North American TV ads, it's definitely a marketing failure.

    On a more serious note though, the ads don't address the fact that Wii U is a new console, not an add-on for the Wii I suspect a wide audience still believes it is.

  6. I did see RMC's unboxing, and that would definitely have gotten people talking...but not sure it would have shown enough of what the system can do.

    Your second point is what I'm thinking the "wide audience" will be thinking...that it's just the new controller, not a new system.

    Thanks for the comments and feedback!

  7. Nintendo of Australia likely ended up assigned so few Wii U units that a TV advertising campaign would have been pointless.

    I imagine there will be a TV advertising campaign early next year. For now Ninty has rented a shop at a prime real estate location in Sydney to provide a "Wii U" experience, and had a big presence at the EB World Expo. That is far better advertising than a TV campaign.

  8. As well as that, there's also one at Melbourne and some pop-up locations in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and one on the Gold Coast.

    I still think many the Wii U GamePad is a Wii attachment, but anyway.

  9. "For now Ninty has rented a shop at a prime real estate location in Sydney..."

    Interesting, is that something they are running through the launch of the system? I just wonder who will venture out to a location that is dedicated as only a "Wii U experience" to try it out, instead of focusing on getting demo units in popular stores where people may stumble upon the units instead.

    Thanks for that feedback!

  10. You need to remember, the initial shipment of Wii Us in Australia is likely too small to justify a TV ad campaign.

    Renting out a couple of strategic retail locations through Australia that will get a lot of feet through the doors will have a knock-on effect of generating a lot of word-of-mouth discussion, which is a useful marketing tool.

    The TV ads can start next year when supply can again outstrip demand.

  11. I get the sense that they don't really care so much about getting that across at this point and does that even matter to a new consumer. The marketing says, hey remember how the Wii brought you together in the living room. We have this new thing that will do it again. Just enough to get people and kids to ask about it the next time they go to the store. Whether they learn now or at the store doesn't matter. The plan is to get idea of something new and fun to the average consumer. Whether the sticker shock get's them at the store is the question.

  12. I do understand the getting people to demo it, but I just wonder if they are targeting retailers in Australia also, like they have done in the U.S. with getting the demo units to Best Buy, Game Stop and Wal-Mart stores...or only the Nintendo specific locations?

    They did announce yesterday about the Wii U mall tour, hitting some of the larger U.S. cities after the launch, which I guess is to help build hype even more...perhaps the supply is really limited, and that's why they are dragging on launching the mall tour after it launches, unlike with the Wii it was before/after it launched I believe.

  13. "The marketing says, hey remember how the Wii brought you together in the living room."

    I could see where they could do that with the U.S. commercials, but I don't see that from them. That could be a great way to sell it, instead of being vague with little/no information.

    "The plan is to get idea of something new and fun to the average consumer. Whether the sticker shock get's them at the store is the question."

    New and fun, not busy I would think. It just seems the main commercial lacked direction of what it was trying to achieve really, and missed out showing things a little more clearly.

    As for sticker shock, if they're thinking the GamePad is just part of the Wii, and not a new console...then that will be the problem I think. Right now though, apparently with pre-orders sold out and stock being limited, the message probably doesn't matter a lot...but it still doesn't mean they couldn't have done it better IMO.

    Thanks for the comment and feedback!


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