Burnett preps Nintendo launch


CHICAGO -- Nintendo launches its Wii gaming system in time for the holidays with a new marketing campaign that leverages extensive partnerships with other brands as well as traditional advertising.

Television spots from Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett launch this week. The four spots from the Chicago agency depict two Japanese men showing up at homes across the United States and saying, "We would like to play." (The Wii system is pronounced "We.") They gain entry and show how easy the system--with a motion sensitive controller--is to use for everyone in the family.

The commercials will be posted on Nintendo.com and YouTube.com later this week.

All four spots will air in one block on Nov. 15 on MTV2, as well as on broadcast and cable networks. A mockumentary featuring the two characters will also be available on TiVo in late November

The TV effort was directed by Stephen Gaghan, who directed the movie Syriana and wrote the movie Traffic.

In addition to the TV ads, guerilla-marketing efforts will include an "Ambassador Program" in which Nintendo-hosted events will assemble 30 or so people for demonstrations of the console. Kiosks will be set up in Westfield malls nationwide.

The company has also established numerous promotional partnerships. For example, Procter & Gamble's Pringles.com will give away 100 consoles and cable network Comedy Central will give away a console every hour during Thanksgiving weekend. The Wii will also be featured in vignettes spoofing reality television shows.

"Our plan to market Wii broadly with hands-on experiences continues to pay off," said George Harrison, vice president of marketing and corporate communications for the Redmond, Wash., company, in a statement. "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."

Spending on the effort was not disclosed, though an agency representative confirmed that Nintendo would spend $200 million to advertise all products in 2006, including Wii. The company spent just over $35 million through September of this year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.