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HIVE EXCLUSIVE: Nintendo Unveils $75 Million GameCube Marketing Strategy

27 Sep, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

Nintendo is spending $75 million to launch its $199 GameCube video game system, which ships Nov. 18, with its largest marketing campaign todate. Nintendo will use a wide array of venues to grab consumers' attention, including national cinema, print, TV and online advertising, nontraditional consumer sampling, online viral campaigns, promotions,retail marketing, nationwide Cube Clubs and a countdown party in New York City.

“GameCube is built from the ground up for one purpose only: to play games,” says Peter Main, executive v.p., sales and marketing, Nintendoof America. “And this huge campaign has one central strategy: to make it as easy as possible for players to quickly get their hands on ourexclusive, groundbreaking Nintendo games.”

Retail locations will begin offering GameCube presell campaigns this week, although Nintendo is limiting stores to only presell 60% of what they expect to get, says George Harrison, senior v.p., marketing and corporate communications, Nintendo of America.

“We want people to go to the stores and be able to purchase GameCube hardware, peripherals and games,” Harrison says. “Sampling is also a major part of our campaign as we'll have 17 games available by Christmas, the largest and most diverse library of any of our consolelaunches.”

More than 10,000 GameCube sampling stations will begin appearing at retail over the coming weeks, accompanied with point-of-sale materials,cube standees and banners. Nintendo will distribute more than 3 million sampling PC CD-ROMs featuring Nintendo gameplay footage, links to theofficial GameCube Web site and downloadable items. These disks will be available through retailers, magazine inserts (500,000 in NintendoPower) and other promotional partnerships.

The print campaign has already begun with an ad that features a naked man in an embryonic state inside of a cube in Rolling Stone. Eightdifferent print ads will run in more than 50 publications, ranging from Sports Illustrated for Kids to Maxim and Stuff Magazine. A total of 95 full-page ads will run over the next several months with a major focus on November and December and a separate campaign for the game NBA Courtside 2002 in January.

“We're targeting GameCube at a pretty broad audience, but at an audience that has a slightly different personality than those that Sony and Microsoft are targeting,” Harrison says. “With the lower price point, we're able to deliver a machine that's all about gameplay, not sending e-mails or playing DVD movies. This marketing campaign is all about fun, so we're not taking ourselves too seriously.”

The heart of the marketing campaign begins Oct. 15, with seven, 30-second TV commercials in a media buy that includes national primetime, syndicated and cable TV programming, spots on MTV and Saturday morning cartoons.

Starting with 30- and 60-second variations of ahardware commercial that includes 12 scenes from different games, the campaign will also include individual 30-second game spots beginning in early November for Luigi's Mansion, Wave Race: Blue Storm, Pikmin, Super Smash Bros. Melee and LucasArts' Star Wars: Rogue Leader: Rogue SquadronII, as well as a 60-second coming attractions-style spot featuring eightto 12 games in December. A TV spot for NBA Courtside 2002 will debut inmid-January. The spots will revolve around the presence of giant cubes in different real-world places. For instance, the Wave Race spot takes place in a yard, where a boy finds a giant cube that's playing Wave Race inside.

The 60-second hardware spot will run on 11,000 movie theater screens in November, appearing before blockbusters like Harry Potter and theSorceror's Stone. In December, the 60-second coming-attractions-style spot will run in theaters, appearing before such films as The Fellowship of the Ring.

Nintendo will target a younger demographic with book covers, bookmarks and ads on Channel One Broadcasting (in classrooms nationwide), alongwith mall dioramas and GameCube banners in malls across the United States. “We want to capture the attention of teens and young adults andthey tend to be at malls,” Harrison says.

In addition to providing details on the games and system, NintendoGameCube.com will offer free tickets to the Cube Club tour and offer consumers a chance to wina trip to New York City for the launch countdown event as part of the “What Would You Do for a Nintendo GameCube?” contest.

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