Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nintendo's Brainy Media Strategies...

Last week at the CMA Digital Conference Ron Bertram, Vice President, General Manager of Nintendo Canada gave a keynote presentation on how Nintendo completely changed their marketing strategy to create an incredible lift in brand awareness and market share in the highly competitive video game landscape.

Bertram explained that Nintendo had historically targeted males 12-25 but that things changed in 2006 when Nintendo’s CEO, Satoru Iwata decided on a loftier goal to market to ages 5-95. To accomplish this, the company released “Brain Age”, a game designed to keep the brain sharp through mental exercises. Once launched, Nintendo quickly realized that the best way to penetrate the 5-95 market was to market to women as they tend to control entertainment and family activity choices within the household.

Henderson Bas was charged with building a web site for Nintendo targeting women and focusing on video games. “Get up and Play” was designed to showcase health benefits and other positive aspects of the system and the look and feel was created to match familiarity to other trusted parenting sites frequented by the audience. The project was originally developed as a three month test.

The results have been fantastic. Bertram said that although the site does not get a lot of media budget to drive traffic, since its launch, Nintendo has increased its database by 85% and it has doubled its female database.

Bertram closed his presentation by stating that a longer term commitment was necessary when targeting new demographics. "A 3-month test was simply not enough to gain real insight into results and had we shut down the test at the 3 month mark, we would have missed out on the great success the project was bound to bring us".

The great take-away from the presentation was that the online channel really is the most cost effective way to reach new and unfamiliar audiences. It affords marketers quick learning, flexibility and laser targeting. For Nintendo the channel has proven extremely successful in their extreme demographic gear shifting initiatives.

Defying the Death of Television…

Today at Marketing Week’s Excellence Day in Toronto, Lauren Richards, CEO of Starcom MediaVest added to Nintendo’s marketing buzz by presenting a great cross media case study. The study clearly demonstrated that Media Directors today are charged with innovating the media landscape itself and that traditional media channels are ready to play ball.

Richards talked about a partnership that had been developed in 2007 with CanWest Media. CanWest was in the early stages of producing the Canadian version of “Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader”, a game show that had shown great success in the US. Fortunate timing and proactive probing on the agency's part, allowed Starcom to negotiate a significant stake in the production of the show as a result, created a synergistic campaign for Nintendo’s Big Brain Academy product.

The media deal included serious product placement:
  • Big Brain Academy was presenting sponsor to the show
  • Wii Consoles were installed in the green rooms for the kids to “warm-up” by playing Brain Academy (with significant air time)
  • Prize Purse was labeled “Brain Age”
  • Contestants had Wii avatars (Miis) created for their name displays
  • The look and feel of the show integrated the Wii interface and experience to deliver seamless content
The show aired on Global TV and following were the results:
  • 4x return on investment
  • 66% lift in brand awareness
  • 35% sales lift
Nintendo is clearly having some fun in this fragmented landscape. With sharp partners at their side, they have been able to cease two opportunities that big brands are striving for in today's attention-strapped media world:
  1. Solid online strategy & consistent targeting.
  2. Deep integration that defies the myth that traditional media is dead.

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