Can Nintendo Learn From Their Past Marketing Mistakes?

The recent announcement of the “New” 3DS was one that elicited a contradictory response of excitement and skepticism from myself. The excitement aspect comes from a portion of my body that will blindly follow Nintendo into the abyss, while the skepticism comes from a more matured section that cares for the wellbeing and future success of Nintendo. And while it’s fun to get excited about playing “Xenoblade Chronicles” with colored buttons, it didn’t take long before I began to wonder if the new 3DS would result in a marketing and sales failure on par with the current Wii U.

Now longer will the 3DS be plagued by monochromatic buttons

Now longer will the 3DS be plagued by monochromatic buttons

My first and largest concern with the new 3DS is how it was announced. The new 3DS was first revealed a week ago on a Japan only Nintendo Direct, showing that they have yet to learn from their Wii U marketing blunder in 2012. It has been nearly two years since the Wii U first hit the market and plenty of people are still unsure of what the console even is. If the Wii U was aimed at a hardcore audience, their botched marketing strategy could be overlooked, but when a large portion of their sales depend on parents buying their kids the brand new Nintendo System, it’s a mystery as to why they didn’t have a full fledged marketing campaign dedicated to force-feeding the Wii U’s features to the mass public

Getting information to the public is especially difficult in the video game industry and it’s something indie developers and smaller game companies struggle with on a daily basis, yet it shouldn’t be something we see with a video game giant such as Nintendo. What makes this even more baffling is that Nintendo currently has a nest egg of ten billion dollars. For those that aren’t aware of Nintendo’s current financial state, they have been having unsuccessful financial quarters ever since the Wii U first arrived, yet after each and every unsuccessful quarter, we’re reassured of their financial stability. How was it then, that a multi-billion dollar company couldn’t put together an effective marketing campaign for a system that so desperately needed it?

The Wii was easy. It was innovative and easy to show why. All Nintendo had to do was show families bowling in their homes and their job was done. It was the first major motion controlled console of its time which made an easy job for Reggie Fils-Aime. Yet even without the challenge of having to make an ad campaign that needed to clearly distinguish the new console from the old, Nintendo developed one for the Wii that was simple, yet brilliant. “Wii you like to play?” An ad campaign consisting of five simple words that create a simple play on words, and yet the console was talked about my millions. During the Holiday season of 2006, every Target and Best Buy in the United States was hit by a mob of parents willing to wait in line for hours at 5:00 am just so their child could own the console of the future. In November of 2012, it took twice as long for me install the day one update, as it did to drive to and from a deserted Gamestop to pick up my brand new Wii U.

After the Wii U was first announced, I had thought they created the name to strategically play off of arguably their best ad campaign in history. I simply assumed that the lovable “Wii you like to play” would cleverly be replaced with “Wii U like to play.” Not only did they squander the chance to effectively mix a pun into a familiar and past successful ad, a chance that they’re not likely to ever see again, they instead decided to create an ineffective ad that failed to educate consumers on what distinguished the Wii U from its predecessor. And seeing as I have yet to hear back from Reggie about my proposal to take over Nintendo’s marketing division, the next best thing I can do is highlight what could have been done better, in an effort to prevent it from happening again

"Should we add features or information of the Wii U in this clearly confusing commerical?" Nah, colored square rooms are the future of advertisement."

Informational commercials highlighting the significance of the product are old news. Colorful neon squares are the future of advertisement.

I can’t help but wonder if employees at Nintendo are even trying anymore when the only name that’s circulating around the new 3DS is, easily enough, “The New 3DS. As lazy as it might be, it’s at least a step up from the Wii U in the sense that consumers will know that the new 3DS an upgrade from its predecessor. There hopefully won’t have to be an emergency ad released by Nintendo, explaining that there is a difference between the old and new 3DS, like they had to do with the Wii U, one year after its release. If you ironically enough haven’t seen the referred ad, it is a two minutes video that noticeably addresses the issue of such a large demographic still not understanding what the Wii U is.

After addressing the boons and blunders of Nintendo’s past marketing campaigns, we arrive at simple conclusion. If they want to sell the public, and more notably myself on this new 3DS, we need to be told why it matters, and what makes it different. When there are currently two pre existing 3DS models on the market, buyers need to be able to justify buying a pricier model. For the younger demographic of Nintendo consumers, parents aren’t going to be inclined to buy a brand new 3DS just so their kid can play with an upgraded ram and colored buttons. I know some readers must be infuriated at this point, internally shouting “THE NEW 3DS OFFERS MORE FEATURES THAN THAT,” I’m trying to show what could happen if Nintendo’s marketing team fails to learn from their mistakes.

But still... Colored Buttons!

The new analog stick refuses to mingle with the “colored buttons.”

The new 3DS offers a variety of new features such as a new analog control stick, more computing power, two new buttons, Amiibo integration, and changeable cover plates. If Nintendo doesn’t want this new system to be ignored, like it very well could, then commercials showing families having fun aren’t going to cut it anymore. These 3DS features are big changes and what Nintendo need to know is that if they want to the new 3DS to be a success, consumers need to hear each and every one of those new features in a variety of ads until they’re tired of seeing them. Because the new 3DS includes games that can’t be played on the current systems, it can’t be treated as just another “DS lite” or “DSi”. It may not be new full fledged system, but if marketed correctly, the Amiibo project and possibly additional unannounced games made only for the new 3DS have the potential to make the new 3DS the success that it deserves to be.

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About The Author

Feature Writer

Eli Hile is a feature writer at Always Nintendo. He likes spreading his opinions and knowledge on all things Nintendo, and is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Aside from logging countless hours into Pokemon and Super Smash Bros, Eli enjoys playing tennis or golf with friends.