Nintendo Ad Campaigns Retrospective

Wii Era

Wii Would Like To Play

In essence, it was back to square one for Nintendo. The Wii Would Like To Play campaign was aimed squarely at the new demographics Nintendo was going for, which were older people, soccer moms, and people that just simply never played videogames. Unlike previous campaigns, the people playing the game were prominently displayed more than the games they were playing. For Nintendo, it was about the joy of playing the game rather than the game itself. If you look at each of these commercials closely, you never say just one person at the TV screen. Even for games like Super Paper Mario, which was single player, there were two people sharing turns playing. It’s almost a complete 180 that Nintendo did here. Everything was bright and cheerful.

Another thing Nintendo played on was that they were a Japanese company, right down to the bowing “ii”s in the end of ever commercial. Nintendo understood that the demographic was one that were not as in-tune as we are. To this new public, they were alien. So they had to create a campaign they explained everything that they were and what they did in one shot. “We are a Japanese company. We make games. Hey, we got a new console for you. We got some games for it. Oh did we mention we’re a Japanese company? Okay. Another happy family! Sunset!” That was it. That was the jist of these commercials. And it worked. Lots of people bought Wiis, Nintendo made lots of money, and Nintendo was finally #1 after all these years.

However, this new direction also drew ire from the gaming community. One of the hardest hit games was Metroid Prime 3 Corruption, which utilized the Wii Would Like To Play campaign. To me, this is the only time this campaign just did not fit the game at all. Unlike Echoes, Corruption went back to being single player. The atmosphere of Corruption was just as dark and foreboding as the other two (even though there were other Hunters there). But this campaign just did not fit the game. And considering how the previous two Prime games were advertised, this was a major setback.

Some might say “Hey, it didn’t fit Smash Bros. Brawl either!” Maybe, but look at what you’re playing. You’re playing as other Nintendo characters in all their whimsical glory. The game might take itself seriously at times. Hell, the Smash community takes the game way too seriously! But in the end, you’re playing a fighting game with a lot of cartoon violence. And if the goal of the Wii Would Like To Play campaign was to get other people play, then it sure as hell fit since most people play the game for the multiplayer.

But I digress. Wii Would Like To Play was probably one of the more polarizing of all campaigns. Eventually, like others, the campaign came to a quiet end. Mario Kart Wii was the first Wii game that Nintendo didn’t use the Wii Would Like campaign, going back to the usual Nintendo whimsy/in you face attitude that they were known for. Mario Super Sluggers and Sin & Punishment: Star Successor up there made it clear that the campaign had ended. Things went back to normal. Games that were serious had serious commercials, and games that were cartoony had silly commercials. Order was back in the Nintendo world. With the Wii coming to an end and the Wii U on the horizon, what will Nintendo do next to sell their latest console? Chances are that they’re probably gonna do something with that “U” in Wii U.

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