Playing is Believing, Nintendo Canada

March 1, 2016

By Tanya Colledge

On an annual basis, the BCAMA honours BC organizations who have demonstrated excellence and creativity in their annual marketing efforts. In 2015, in addition to honouring the BCAMA Marketer of the Year, three Marketing Excellence Awards were added to the lineup: Marketing on a Shoestring, Community Engagement or Not-for-Profit Marketing, and Public Relations or Experiential Marketing.

In this series of three posts, we’re taking a look at the approaches that last year’s Marketing Excellence winners took to accomplish their marketing goals – and to win their awards. This time around, we’re featuring Nintendo, who won the inaugural award for Public Relations or Experiential Marketing. (If you missed our first post, click here to find out more about COBS Bread and their Marketing on a Shoestring recognition award.)

Nintendo at Marketer of the Year

Nintendo is recognized in the experiential marketing event category at the Marketing Excellence Awards.

The Challenge

What is your favourite device? Maybe it’s the smartphone that never leaves your hand, the laptop computer that has never failed you or the tablet that is the perfect in-between device. Now imagine that there is a new model of your favourite device. The one you currently own works fine – in fact, it’s great! So how hard would it be for someone to convince you to give up the device you love for a newer model? This was the challenge that Nintendo of Canada faced when they introduced their new Wii U console.

The Nintendo Wii console had revolutionized gaming and attracted new players to video gaming – even people who had never thought about picking up a controller before. In fact, gamers young and old were having so much fun with Wii that many of them were delaying or just not making the switch to Wii U after it launched in 2012. So Nintendo decided to reignite the love of gaming and interest in the Wii U console by using Mario Kart, a particularly well-known and globally loved game.

The Concept

Mario Kart 8 launched at the end of May 2014, with all of the beloved aspects of the traditional game incorporated into the unique playing features of the Wii U console. The goal of the game launch? To get any fence-sitters to buy a Wii U console and to convince parents that it was time for an upgrade.

Working with Inventa, Nintendo Canada created Mario’s Canadian Karting Day, a launch concept that included live festivities in Montreal and Toronto. Families and kids were invited to enjoy free go-karting with celebrity friends like Mario, and to get behind the wheel of Mario Kart 8. To make people feel as if they were stepping into the world of Mario Kart, local go-kart tracks were transformed from start to finish with authentic game branding. Online engagement, social media messaging, and communication and engagement at Nintendo retail locations created excitement and buzz around all of the events.

The Star of the Show

But go-karting was only part of the action – the true star of the show was the game itself. Each venue had gaming lounges with interactive Wii U experiences, allowing kids and parents to be among the first to experience Mario Kart 8! Trained brand ambassadors walked people through the game to show them that not only was Mario Kart 8 a familiar game from a well-loved franchise, but that it also had several new features, making it a must-have.

All of these experiences were shared through social media; guests were encouraged to share their moments online using event-specific hashtags.

A Game-Winning Strategy

The strategies and tactics for Mario’s Canadian Karting Day were very successful and generated higher-than-anticipated numbers across the board. Nintendo Canada’s social media channels also saw a huge jump in engagement, generating high impression and interaction numbers on their Facebook page and in their Twitter feed.

Finally, an impressive number of copies of Mario Kart 8 were sold during the launch window, with continued momentum during the 12-week post-launch period, making Mario Kart 8 Nintendo’s fastest-selling game during the period. More importantly, Nintendo also saw a significant year-over-year increase in Wii U console sales, proving that with the right marketing strategy and a lot of creativity, even some of the toughest markets, like avid gamers, can change their consumer behaviour. Well done, Nintendo Canada!

Watch this blog for an upcoming post about Theatre Under the Stars, our third Marketing Excellence Award winner.