Nintendo brand effort to support entire 64 system

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Nintendo of America in early September will launch a branding campaign for the Nintendo 64 game-playing system that carries a concept the marketer will extend into ads for the platform's new games.

This will mark the first time the videogame marketer has branded its hardware and software with one consistent message.

AT CENTER OF 2ND-HALF PUSH

The branding campaign, from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, is the crux of Nintendo's $100 million marketing push for the second half of 1997, which the company began June 30 with a $7 million effort for Nintendo 64 title Star Fox 64. Also created by Burnett, those ads are separate from the branding initiative.

Supplementing the branding campaign will be a cross-promotion with Taco Bell Corp.. A sweepstakes game will offer Nintendo 64 hardware and software in its prize structure.

TACO BELL SUPPORT

Advertising from Taco Bell and its agency, TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., will mark the first time characters from multiple Nintendo games will be used in creative.

Nintendo is entering its second year marketing the much-touted 64-bit system, competing with game platforms such as Sony Computer Entertainment of America's PlayStation and Sega Corp. of America's Saturn. Nintendo commands a 50% share of the $1.7 billion category, but software for Nintendo's system has been slow reaching the market. Nintendo aims to increase the number of titles available from 15 to 45 by Christmas.

SONY COUNTEROFFENSIVE

Sony is countering with a series of ad campaigns backing most of its 25 titles. The titles and ads will be out this fall. Total spending by Sony will exceed $50 million, via TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif.

Sega will launch a branding effort of its own this fall from new agency Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco.

CREATIVE CHALLENGE

George Harrison, Nintendo VP-marketing and corporate communication, wouldn't disclose the creative concept or tagline of the branding campaign. But he said it advances last year's launch effort, which carried a "Change the system" theme. He acknowledged the difficulty of creating a concept that can encompass hardware and varied software.

"It's like a movie studio tying together all its movies under one branding campaign," he said. "[But] by doing this, we're trying to be consistent, trying to promote and reinforce our name in a competitive marketplace."

The effort will kick off with a 60-second commercial. Then the tagline will be integrated into individual campaigns for key software products.

Those efforts will be aggressively supported in the media, said Mr. Harrison, but not reach the scope of integration of the Star Fox 64 campaign. That push includes a Burnett-created video that was mailed to 1 million players.

In its first week in stores, Nintendo sold 300,000 units of Star Fox 64; its goal is to move 2 million by year-end.

Among the cross-promotions planned for its software titles is a program with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer tied to its Goldeneye 007 game. Packaging will include catalogs for exclusive James Bond merchandise.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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