Game Boy Color . . .

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Nintendo of America's Game Boy is on a tear: its U.S. retail value commanded a whopping $6.9 billion in 1999, and it outsold every videogame system with sales of nearly 8 million units.

Not bad for a game franchise that's now in its eleventh year.

With Game Boy Color, Peter Main, 58, Nintendo exec VP-sales and marketing, proved he could whip up a frenzy around a decade-old product: He more than doubled the 3 million unit sales in 1998. For that accomplishment and work on Pokemon Yellow, he is the first executive since Advertising Age began the Marketing 100 in 1992 to be named a member of the elite group for two separate products in the same year.

"It's testimony to a strong $25 million-to-$35 million marketing effort that spoke individually to various target segments," Mr. Main says.

The high-profile campaign, via Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, targets kids under the age of 12, who comprise one-third of Game Boy customers.

Mr. Main was able to leverage Pokemon in his Game Boy Color assault: 40% of the software for Game Boy was Pokemon-related.

"Our key was knowing that Pokemon was going to be a huge and compelling factor in the Game Boy audience, so we brought a lot of software to the teen group."

With nearly 20% market share, an improved color screen and a bevy of new software titles, Game Boy Color put Nintendo on a roll.

"We set out with a mission at the start of 1999," Mr. Main recalls. "We have this wonderful heritage, we have to update it and reposition it and work very strenuously to spread the demographic."

Now, as Nintendo ramps up a new videogame platform code-named Dolphin, Mr. Main's challenge is to keep the evergreen Game Boy Color franchise growing and to launch Game Boy Advanced later this year. Using Game Boy and Pokemon as "training wheels," Mr. Main is now laying the groundwork for Nintendo's next videogame system set to launch in 2001.

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