The slow burn of Nintendo's Wii U Marketing

The Wii U launches in less than two weeks, and many have criticized Nintendo for not doing enough advertising. Among the main complaints are the fact that the first Wii U TV commercials didn't appear until last week, and that there is almost no awareness of what the Wii U is among the general population (most people initially assume it's a new Wii peripheral). Is the "hype engine" revving too low? I don't think so.

When the Wii U launches in North America on November 18th, all signs point to a complete sell out at this point. I think Nintendo is going slow on the advertising because, well, they can.

Pushing hard with a huge campaign right now would increase demand for a product which is already constrained. Now some would argue that they should hype up demand anyway, but I think Nintendo needs to be smart with their money right now, and slow and sustainable is better than blowing your budget too early.

What has Nintendo done so far?

  • September:
  • Initial New York press conference announcing Wii U
  • Pre-orders sell out quickly
  • October:
  • Two "Iwata Asks" detailing the console hardware and the Gamepad technology
  • UK commercial debuts
  • Discover Wii U Tour launches in Canada
  • November:
  • US commercial debuts on TV and in theaters ahead of Wreck it Ralph movie
  • Second US commercial debuts featuring New Super Mario Bros U
  • Wii U kiosks start appearing in stores
  • Burger King kids toys cross-promotion and TV ad
  • Nintendo Land TV ad debuts
  • Disney website cross-promotion

Doesn't seem so shabby when you put it all together, does it? While initially slow, the ad campaign seems to be building up steam since November. What it makes clear is that Nintendo's real target is not the launch, but the holiday season.

This all important sales season is still a month and a half away, by which time two things will have happened. First, the initial shipment will have sold out and people will have the system in their hands, and will be talking about the console, providing free advertising for Nintendo. These initial buyers will help Nintendo test its Miiverse network, and the TVii features. It will give Nintendo a chance to fine tune their network. Second, it gives Nintendo time to ramp up production to meet demand for the holidays. While the history with the Wii launch and short supply helped add to the demand, I think Nintendo is eager to avoid disappointing consumers with a Wii U shortage.

It appears that Nintendo is content to release info and advertising in dribs and drabs. While no doubt this is frustrating for fans who want to know everything (and want to know it right now!) it does have the beneficial effect of keeping attention on the Wii U for weeks on end. Nintendo is capitalizing on the all important news cycle to keep the Wii U if not exactly a hot topic, at least a warm one.

Posted on November 6, 2012 and filed under Article.