Bandai nurtures Tamagotchi with first ad campaign

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TOKYO -- Bandai will mount its first consumer ad campaign for the portable LCD Tamagotchi "pet" from the end of November through January, to commemorate the anniversary of its first year on sale.

The Tamagotchi, a virtual pet that children need to nurture by pressing buttons that represent feeding and stroking, quickly took much of Asia and Europe by storm, with stories of parents bidding on the black market to obtain the toys for their children. Bandai estimates it will have shipped 15 million units of the Tamagotchi from its launch in November 1996 through the end of this year.

The toy has not been advertised before because its popularity spread like wild- fire through word of mouth and editorial articles.

However, Bandai now feels the need to shore up Tamagotchi sales with an ad campaign. Reports of sales shortages in its home market of Japan have lessened over time. More than one million have been sold in Japan over the past year.

The campaign takes the form of a quiz, to be featured in print and on TV ads, which consumers can enter by post. Some 15,000 prizes of new-style Tamagotchis will be awarded to those with the correct answers.

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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