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Nickelodeon, Pringles, Others Get in the Game with Nintendo Wii

By Nov 17, 2006

Nintendo has launched a multi-million dollar campaign to support the Nov. 19 launch of its new gaming system, Nintendo Wii. And other marketers are trying to get a piece of the action.

It started this week when Nintendo began a two-month-long mall experience in 25 Westfield shopping centers. Brand reps are demonstrating new ways to play on six interactive Wii kiosks. A list of participating malls is available at Wii.Nintendo.com.

“Our goal with Wii is to expand the world of video games to new audiences,” said Perrin Kaplan, vice president of marketing, Nintendo of America. “That means catering to the hard-core gamers, but also reaching out to people who used to play and now are busy with other offerings life has and people who have never played before.”

Priced at nearly $250, the console will include five sports titles. Nintendo plans to make available 33 new games and 30 classic games for the console by year-end.

Nintendo is also promoting the gaming system via print advertorials, and in tours and TV spots.

The company wouldn’t release the budget for the launch, but it spends about $200 million a year on marketing, Kaplan confirmed.

Starting Nov. 20, Nickelodeon will debut a 60-second TV spot that shows a father mistaking the Wii remote for his TV remote control. The father then becomes immersed with the gaming experience and the whole family joins in.

“The crux of the campaign is to demonstrate how much fun Wii is to play, and that goes for every member of the family, regardless of their age or experience level,” Kaplan said. “We’ve seen time and again that once people give it a try, they want it and they tell their friends and family, ‘You’ve got to try this.’”

In the final countdown to the big day, Toys “R” Us in New York’s Times Square and GameStop at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles will host midnight madness events. The two retailers will entertain gaming fans with acrobats, music and pyrotechnics. The events are expected to draw thousands, Nintendo said.

For its part, Comedy Central is giving away a Wii every hour during the Thanksgiving weekend. The network will feature the system in a series of vignettes spoofing reality TV shows.

In addition, one grand-prize winner will get a Scion tricked out to look like a Wii and a gaming system. The sweepstakes kicks off Thanksgiving and runs through Nov. 26. The initiative will be supported by banner ads on ComedyCentral.com and TV spots.

And Chip-maker Pringles is giving away 100 consoles in a new sweepstakes. The sweeps will be marketed on 7 million Wii-themed Pringles Snack Stacks packages and in FSIs. Visitors enter at Pringles.com. In addition, Wal-Mart will roll out a display of 2 million Wii-themed Pringles canisters during the first three weeks of December. The sweepstakes runs through April 16.

Likewise, 7-Eleven is boosting its brand giving away 711 gaming systems in a separate sweepstakes promoting its Slurpee beverage. The sweepstakes piggybacks on a new limited-time Nintendo-themed Slurpee flavor—StrawberryWii Banana. Print ads in Blender magazine, Electronics Gaming Monthly and USA Today and The Onion, P-O-P and banner ads on Google.com, GameZone.com and GameSpot.com will support the campaign. The sweepstakes runs through Jan. 31.

Beyond sweepstakes, the gaming system has attracted more than 1 million page views and more than 200,000 unique visitors to its MySpace page atMySpace.com/HowWiiPlay. Visitors have added their own Wii videos and posted thousands of messages in online forums, the company said.

Leo Burnett handles TV spots; GolinHarris handles p.r. and Axis handles Hispanic public relations.

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