Game Boy Advance Races to Preempt Microsoft Xbox

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NEW YORK ( -- Nintendo's $25 million marketing gambit for its Game Boy Advance will get an early start before the
Game Boy campaign gears up for Xbox battle.
video game hits shelves in June.

The 32-bit portable video game will hit store shelves on June 13, but Nintendo plans to start promoting it April 30 with TV, outdoor, online and print advertising well in advance of the product's arrival.

A 'solution to your boredom'
The first of three TV spots by Bcom3's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, is set to break on April 30. The spots will run through June, then rev again from August through September with its new theme, "Life Advanced." The ads show how Game Boy Advance can spice up mundane life situations and be "a solution to your boredom, no matter what age you are," said George Harrison, vice president-marketing and corporate communications for Nintendo.

Nintendo, anxious to gain sales momentum before Microsoft Corp.'s ballyhooed Xbox hits stores this fall, wants to expand its Game Boy demographics. Mr. Harrison said 40% of Game

Boy consumers are over 18, and that Nintendo wants Game Boy Advance to be "omnipresent."

To accomplish this feat, Nintendo will deploy billboards, as well as airport dioramas, in 11 markets and dioramas in 90 malls. Junior high and high school students will see ads through the Channel One network and the Internet. Print advertising begins in June and July issues of gamer and entertainment magazines, among others. Guerilla marketing is also planned in 11 key cities, where street teams will encourage passers-by to play Game Boy Advance. The company will spend a total of $75 million on Game Boy Advance marketing by year-end.

McDonald's promotion
The device also is a part of McDonalds' annual Monopoly consumer promotion. Two additional promotional partners come onboard this summer, but Mr. Harrison declined to reveal them.

Edward Williams, senior vice president at investment firm Gerard Klauer Mattison, is bullish on Game Boy Advance.

"Its screen is 50% larger, it has color, has a faster processor ... the graphics will help expand the market." Mr. Williams projects that Nintendo could sell 4 million units this calendar year in North America. Game Boy Advance will sell for around $99.95, with games for the unit ranging from $29.95 to $39.95.

Nintendo has sold more than 110 million Game Boy systems and 405 million games since their introduction in 1989, according to the company's estimates.

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