Nintendo of America’s research revealed that 63% of video gamers produce or consume content on YouTube on a daily basis. It seemed obvious, then, that YouTube should be the cornerstone of its campaign to introduce Wii U, the high-definition successor to its popular Wii video game console.
For its Wii U Video Challenge, Nintendo and agency A Squared Group handpicked 50 influential YouTube personalities who were passionate gamers to produce short-form videos interpreting their experiences playing the New Super Mario Bros. U and ZombiU games. The participants all posted their videos on their YouTube channels on the same day and proceeded to promote them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Based on qualitative and quantitative metrics, Nintendo selected 12 finalists, who were then flown to Hollywood, assembled into three teams, and given 48 hours to make films inspired by the Super Mario game. Once again the YouTubers kept their social media followers abreast of their progress.
The finalists then traveled to Park City, UT, to debut their films to an audience of film-industry pros, Nintendo executives, and other VIPs at the official Nintendo Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival. A live audience vote determined the winning team, who earned a meeting with an agent from United Talent Agency. The films then went live online, first exclusively on Electronic Playground, a site devoted to games and geek culture, then on Nintendo’s social media channels, and finally on the filmmakers’ YouTube channels.
Since the campaign’s launch in November 2012, it generated more than 700 million media impressions, including more than 6.5 million from consumer-generated social media. The 53 videos—more than three hours of original content devoted to Wii U—garnered not only nearly 4 million views on YouTube but also 105,000 likes and 21,000 comments. And of course, Mario and Luigi continued to keep the sewers of New York free of nasty critters.