Sunday, October 22, 2006
Wii hands-on, marketing campaign emerging
About six weeks before the local Wii launch, Nintendo has started its marketing campaign in Germany with a bang. Wii was one of four sponsors of a big television event, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the country´s most successful youth magazine Bravo, which I attended.
Among the international stars performing were British boy group Take That (minus Robbie Williams, of course), Swedish pop duo Roxette, British eighties legend Kim Wilde, as well as her German counterpart Nena and other local stars. As might have been expected, the sponsor was not Nintendo at large but specifically the Wii brand.
Here is a two-minute clip that was aired on German channel Pro Sieben as part of the near-live broadcast (in German, obviously). It features the show´s secondary presenter talking to my good friend Arnd who is explaining the basics. The presenter then moves on to a hands-on session with a young actor and Peter Maffay, one of Germany´s most famous, albeit slightly dated musicians.
Back at work today, I checked the viewing figures for the clip (courtesy of GfK). It was seen by 1,94 million people in total, which approximates to a market share of 6,3%. Within the relevant target demographic of 14 to 49 year-olds, it scored 1,49 million viewers, which makes for 12% market share. The entire show (almost three hours long) was slightly above that, often showing the Wii logo in the background, as well as in trailers.
Just to put those viewing figures into perspective for you: it´s not a great result but pretty solid nonetheless. You also have to account for subsequent airings of the footage. The event was one of the biggest television events this year and parts of it will be featured on pretty much every German television station, including some international ones. Particularly the exclusive comeback performances of Take That and Roxette generated a lot of publicity. All in all, the event will undoubtedly introduce the Wii brand to millions of viewers across Europe.
Nintendo´s sponsorship deal hints at their focus of the marketing campaign at large, which seems to aim for a much broader audience than previous campaigns. I would very much expect this to be a sign of things to come for the USA, UK and Japan. Here in the commentary, though, I want to focus on a more personal aspect of yesterday´s show.
The Wii was playable at the exclusive after-show party. This was my fifth hands-on experience with the console so far (after the exclusive Red Steel session, E3, Games Convention and NOE´s London event). It was the first time, though, I was without a camera team and the pressures of work. Hence, I was able to experience the console in a completely different way.
The one Wii kiosk at the party was loaded with ´Wii: Sports´ and pretty much attracted a constant stream of guests, some of them local celebrities. I was able to play tennis and, for the first time, bowling at some length.
The graphics of the game really are quite sobering, particularly on the huge television set they had hooked up to the console. Of course, ´Wii: Sports´ was never intended to take full advantage of the Wii hardware, yet I couldn´t help but notice this aspect.
At the same time, it was very heartening to see some of the other guests´ responses. Pretty much none had any experience with videogames, so they could not possibly have picked up on the graphics issue. Instead, everyone who tried it out was smiling instantly, as were all by-standers. In fact, I myself had great fun getting the bowling action just right.
The intuitiveness of the control mechanism cannot be stressed enough. It really is as close to tennis, golf or bowling as it can possibly get in your living room (bar a holo-deck, perhaps). I have no doubt whatsoever that playing this game will actually improve your skills out there in the real world, so to speak. But above all, it was just a fun experience, which made me - and everyone else who played - smile, laugh and cringe.
And this, I believe, is the Wii´s major selling point: it is the only videogame console that will cast a smile on everyone´s face. It is pure, unbridled fun in a box. I am not the first person to pick up on this, of course. But I also will not be the last, either. So while I was left with an uneasy feeling about this particular game´s graphics, the Wii really managed to impress me and a whole lot of people on gameplay merit alone. And thinking what games like ´Super Mario Galaxy´, ´Metroid Prime 3´ or ´Red Steel´ - that offer more advanced controls, as well as combine great gameplay with stunning graphics - will do to people who have become interested in Wii, I felt satisfied that Nintendo really is onto a winner here.
EDIT In keeping with my predictions about an unusually broad advertising campaign, the main ´Toys "R" Us´ store in New York City has put up a gigantic Wii advertisement all over its storefront.
The store is located on 44th and Broadway, which is right on Times Square. And, since some people were wondering, I am pretty sure the advertisement is permanent. I just tried to call the store about it, but they were unavailable. I do not think that the individual elements flip over to reveal a different advertisement. The whole thing is just too big, in my opinion.
Sources: Pro Sieben, GfK, YouTube
Thanks to: OehrGmbH, Raphael, Stabby