Nintendo's New Wii U Commercial Is Cringe Worthy, But It'll Work
Posted on Tuesday, November 12 @ 17:08:25 Eastern by Daniel BischoffNintendo released a new commercial hyping their Wii U game console for the holidays but let's be clear about one thing: it is in no way intended to sell to hardcore gamers like those visiting GameRevolution or sounding off on message boards. Absolutely nothing about the commercial you're about to see is meant for your eyes and as such, we recommend wearing goggles or a lab coat or something so it looks like you're doing science while you watch.
Maybe putting on your science goggles will get you to think a little bit about the commercial before you jump into the comments and begin slamming Nintendo for abandoning you:
Now, it's true that everything about this commercial makes me want to eat my Wii U GamePad with a little bit of peanut butter smeared on top. Everything about this commercial feels corny, but Nintendo has two strengths and this advertisement plays perfectly to those on almost every level.
First, Nintendo has a family-friendly attitude that the other video game console makers can't claim. Microsoft has spent two console cycles playing to the hardcore first-person shooter fan and only in the past few years has the American company tried to include women, children, and families in its target demographics. What's more, they've done a piss poor job of it.
Microsoft wants Kinect and Xbox One to be the only entertainment system you need, but when was the last time anyone played with their Kinect on Xbox 360 aside from a dance party or a fitness routine? Further, Xbox One is priced prohibitively high to reach a demographic like the nuclear family. Only those wealthy enough or dedicated to the brand will wrap up an Xbox One for themselves and place it under a tree this holiday season.
Sony's firmly established that they're for the gamer. Obviously we love that tactic, but being "for the gamer" also means you have M-rated violence in spades. Microsoft has this too and games have only just gotten the sought-after constitutional protection as a method of free speech and shootings still get tied to video games in some way or another.
There's no shooting in this Nintendo commercial, whatsoever. Even the weird sound the dad makes at the end can't be misconstrued as a gun shot, and instead, all the right buzzwords for families get air time. Togetherness? Is that even a real word? All I know is that's what my mom says she wants for Christmas when I've asked her for the past 20 years.
Second, this commercial plays to children and even if Wii U isn't the "most-desired product" among kids, it'll be the easiest sell to mom and dad around the holidays. When the PlayStation 2 arrived, I missed the boat and soon I'd heard about this new Xbox console that had an awesome game called Halo. I didn't know what a Halo was, but I knew that you could shoot at it in the game, so I figured "that's what I want."
At the time, my brother and I were still young enough to come up with pitches like the kids in this ad. I distinctly remember hanging my preference for an Xbox console on the fact that it played DVDs (with an attachment and remote control peripheral. Seriously, Microsoft has always been terrible at this.)
I remember my mom asking about the new Nintendo machine and how Nintendo was our favorite, that we had Game Boys and the beloved Nintendo 64... why didn't we want the GameBox? It's not a GameBox, mom, it's a GameCube, and I want the Xbox because it plays DVDs and I'm tired of Nintendo, I remember saying. I remember all of this in detail because my brother and I lined up an entire plan of attack earlier that afternoon.
When Christmas finally rolled around, we got a DVD player and surround sound system. Not an Xbox. I was disappointed, sure, but I only had myself to blame. I kept going on about the damn Xbox playing DVDs. I could never have said that I wanted the Xbox to play a first-person shooter, even if that was the truth.
Nintendo isn't speaking to hardcore gamers in this commercial, so don't get all high and mighty and blame Nintendo for abandoning you. Nintendo doesn't have to feed core gamers because they've consistently raised them with Mario and Link for decades. This commercial and the recently released live-action Zelda and Pokemon commercials feel just like Nintendo of 10-15 years ago.
Nintendo is speaking to the children and to their parents. They're telling kids "if you want a new console this holiday season, you know you're parents will say yes to Wii U" and they're telling parents "you know you don't want to buy one of those expensive PlayStations or XBoxes, so say yes when your kids ask for a Wii U." Better yet, parents will actually say yes because the new Wii U bundles come with games and they've already got Wii controllers lying around the house.
Yes, from our point of view this new Nintendo commercial is cringe-worthy, groan-inducing, and forehead-slapping fodder, but it's probably exactly what Nintendo needs to recapture families this holiday.
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